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Why Doenitz did not understand that the allied had detected HF/DF and broken enigma codes?

Discussion in 'Atlantic Naval Conflict' started by Neon Knight, Oct 28, 2007.

  1. Neon Knight

    Neon Knight Member

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    everybody knows, the nazis lost in the atlantic because they got far behind in the technological race: breaking enigma codes and detecting HF/DF were among the keys farctors. So here's my question:

    Why Doenitz never seriously considered the idea that british could detect german communications system with wolfpacks??

    True, doenitz had some suspects (he ordered the fourth rotor in enigma machine) but at the same time he was the person most involved in the problem. I think he should have had more than "suspects". He had in his hands all the clues to get a clear picture of the situation and eventually take effective countermeasures.

    Is Doenitz career overrated?

    maybe he was more ideologically driven that we are used to think..... he was blind to facts. Maybe he simply could not accept british/american superiority... but certainly he didn't dislike to be in hitler's favours.

    what do u think? have u got additional info on this?
     
  2. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    If Dönitz suspected something and even did something about it I guess he did more than the boys in wehrmact etc did. I suppose all the Germans were more or less thinking that their scientists had created a machine that could not fail them.
     
  3. Neon Knight

    Neon Knight Member

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    true. but when u constantly have the feeling that your enemy knows you moves in advance u must do something. no matter that u r told by scientists that it is impossible.

    In a similar situation Rommel reacted: he claimed that there was a spy among the italian commanders. we know he was wrong, but at least rommel try to analyze the facts.

    I'm not a radio expert, but i think that Doenitz could have limited the use of HF/DF.
     
  4. Jaeger

    Jaeger Ace

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    The big advantage of the Enigma was the volume of information. The Germans counted on that if the code was cracked the time lag would render the information useless. This was very much the case too. But the allies used machines in their code cracking to counter this.
     
  5. Neon Knight

    Neon Knight Member

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    As far as i read, cracking enigma codes usually took no more than one day, this because british used a prototype of computer ("turing" machine).

    The german "experts" admitted that in theory enigma could be broken... but they were sure that in practice it was impossible since nobody had the capabilty to set up such a huge decription systems.

    in facts british technology proved to be, not only much more advanced than nazi's, but also beyond nazi's imagination!

    anyway, i'd like to discuss the conduct of doenitz. nobody in the reich had both so many elements and so much power to change things.

    he didn't do anything.
     
  6. Erich

    Erich Alte Hase

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    it's called pride.........Doenitz and the KM general staff could not think in any way shape or form their so called little protected code could be possibly figured out. Even after the simplicity of submerged U-booten getting hit time after time by ships as well as coastal bombers. It would seem obvious to a 1944-45 u-boot crew that someone had spilled the goods but ............ ? and they paid severely for it
     
  7. Richard

    Richard Expert

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    Doenitz knew the war came seven years to early for his U-Boats and after Hitler's victory in the west in 1940 resulted in Hitler making cut backs in scientific field, this was a bad move and allowed the Allies to catch up.

    I don't believed he would under estimated what he faced and did job well in 39/40. The trouble was his fleet was being over stretched in 1942, true to say the IXC U-Boats would see the second happy times as they patrol America's eastern sea board but as fast as the IXC's were sinking ships America replaced there numbers with ease. Allied shipping routes to Russia would see action along with the Med and Black Sea.

    Late 42 saw the IXD2 class U-Boats hit the Tankers in the Caribbean for a period of time before some were moved to Penang. I think Doenitz knew he had one shot and one shot only in 39/40 and gave it his best shot. When you come third in the military budget you have to do the best you can.
     
  8. bf109 emil

    bf109 emil Member

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    arrogance...on Doenitz part...u-boat crews suspected this, but because RN and RCN protected and covered up this secret, most sinkings, re-routing of convoys always had an excuse...and Doenitz scoffed at the invisibility of the Enigma as being impregnatabvle...much the same way Rommel believed, and messages by him to OKW where so detailed, when his son was asked about Rommel suspecting this, he said the same, that his father absolutely believed and felt their was no way of his signs being read, and as opposed to other field commanders using sayt land lines, Rommel abstained from this in case taps where placed upon land-lines.....

    I think the first ship to succomb to losing the enigma was a weather ship used in the Atlantic, to give advanced notice to the Luftwaffe as to weather conditions, as winds blow from west to east, so to enlighten bomber crews as to expectations on the days weather early in the summer of '40...I think this was taken by a force of British commando's, and the crew abandoned ship, believing it was going to be sunk, and instead boarded...but i could be wrong...

    bf109 Emil
     
  9. Carl W Schwamberger

    Carl W Schwamberger Ace

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    "True, doenitz had some suspects (he ordered the fourth rotor in enigma machine) but at the same time he was the person most involved in the problem. I think he should have had more than "suspects". He had in his hands all the clues to get a clear picture of the situation and eventually take effective countermeasures."

    The number of rotors was increased more than once. Changes were made in the methods for key settings, the Stecker plugboard was added early on. The Germans did not think the Enigma machine was impentrable, just very difficult. They thought frequent small changes were sufficient to render Allied efforts ineffective. Fortunatly they failed to understand several things.

    1. the Poles had figured out the underlying mathmatics of the system and before the war built several effective decoding machines (the Bombe version).

    2. The operator procedures, and the methods for organizing the messages, were flawed and greatly eased entry into te message key. This was endimic in all branches of the German military and security services.

    3. The British had developed a industrial scale system for processing the radio intercepts enmass. Amoung other things the Germans thought the important messages would be indistiguishable from the trivial, complicating efforts to decode them. The Brits developed methods for sorting which messages were from important senders and for assigning priority. The German radio signals intel had some sucesses, but overall it was fragmented, disorganized, and using methods often obsolete by Allied standards. They had no comprehension of the scale and capability of the Bletchly Park facilty and the many other Allied facilitys.

    4. Deception. The Brits had captured all or most of the spys infiltrated into Britian. Through their double cross organization they dribbled all sorts of false information back to the German intel services. Amoung this were bits about how various submarines were sunk. The German intel analysists concluded that the submarine were being located via air reconissance, sonar, and aggressive hunter packs of surface ships. Any information released concerning radio signal intel were designed to turn attention away from encryption failure.
     
  10. Carl W Schwamberger

    Carl W Schwamberger Ace

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    Correct for the sea going version. A couple of weather ships were captured with the Enigma machines intact. So was at least one submarine. Some Wehrmacht & Luftwafe versions were captured as well along the way. One such may have been when Rommels signals Intel battalion was overrun and destroyed during the Alamein battle. The Germans suspected some machines had been captured, but thought that irrelevant as the key was changed daily and it would required sifiting thorough billions of combinations to find the key for a particular day and message.

    The Poles were able to intercept a Enigma machine in transit from the factory, examine, and photograph it in the mid 1930s. This examination was a critical step in creating the earliest decryption machines (the Bombe models). Obtaining a operators manual from French sources was another imprtant event. Equally important was the accumulation of thousands of intercepted messages during the 1920s & 30s. This gave them a huge data base for testing & refining their decryption methods.

    In 1943 a USAAF Brigadier General (Varnum) with direct knowledge of the ULTRA system disobeyed a standing order not to fly over enemy territory. His aircraft was shot down & he spent the next two years as a German POW. Fortunatly the Germans never thought to interrogate him on the subject of signals intel....
     
  11. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    This is a widespread problem for the Germans and one that is not limited to the KM. Note how after German engineers invented chaff (drüppel) Göring ordered the invention supressed because he feared the British might discover their invention. There was no thought here that the British might discover it themselves.
    The same goes for centi-metric radar. Even the Japanese managed to invent and produce sets. The Germans on the other hand tossed out the possibility based on their own research and limitations of available tubes. Until they captured British sets they just could not entertain the idea that centimetric radar might actually work.
    There are lots of examples of this kind of rigid thinking. I suspect that it is a national trait of Germany. Most countries have such societial traits, and yes they do change over time. But for the most part slowly if at all.
     
  12. Falcon Jun

    Falcon Jun Ace

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    Another factor we should consider is the massive Allied effort to protect ULTRA and that British intelligence also largely controlled the assets that German intelligence had. The Germans were being fed with things they wanted to get so that even their best brains were lulled into what we can say a form of complacency. Add to the mix the Nazi mind's arrogant sense of superiority, the result is a lethal concoction for the Germans.
     
  13. mavfin

    mavfin Member

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    In the Pacific, this was called the 'Victory Disease'....
     
  14. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    From the "Secret in building 26" by Jim DeBrosse and Colin Burke

    In Feb 1942 the Kriegsmarine introduced the fourth wheel to the enigma machine ( named Triton by nazis and M4 Shark by the British ) .

    In the spring 1943 as the U-boat offensive opened, the Germans changed some of their codes and tightened up their procedures so that the Allies were again shut out of the submarine code systems. They remained blind for more than a week what became the worst month for the Allies in the battle of the Atlantic. More than twice as many Allied merchant ships ( ninety-five ) went to the bottom in March as February.

    The destruction might have been even worse had another surge of insight among the British codebreakers not allowed the three-wheel Bombes to be useful again. U-boats were required to report the sighting of any Allied convoy to Admiral Dönitz´s headquarters, using a special short-signal code so that Allied direction-finding equipment wouldn´t have time to home in on their transmissions.However, the British had a copy of the latest codebook for those short signals, captured from U-559 in Nov 1942. The codebooks, plus an order to U-boat skippers to report weather conditions and convoy sightings in the Enigma´s simpler three-wheel mode , allowed Bletchley´s Hut 8 to solve Shark for 90 of the 112 days between March 10 and June 30 1943.

    ---------

    November 1943 was when the US Bombes at last began breaking the keys to the Shark code on routine basis. By December, the average time for gaining entry into Shark was thirty-six hours- down dramatically from the embarrassing early months of 1943 when the Americans had needed an average of twenty-five days to break Shark, mostly by hand.

    By the summer of 1944, hundreds of submarine messages were being read the same day, some within minutes of their transmission, giving Allied antisubmarine forces a fresh bead on the subs´whereabouts.
     
  15. Erich

    Erich Alte Hase

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    and Kai had not U-booten especially reported into KM HQ then the big what-if stands ........ ? just how much of Allied shipping would of been sent to Davey Jones locker ? I've wondered about this since the 1960's. It was absolutely insane that the KM till wars end just could not figure all of this out, they knew at some point they were being detected but never put their fingers on the "surpirse" till wars end
     
  16. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    I guess it´s better the Germans did not suspect a problem...

    -----------

    Also from the same book:

    " After the war, when teams of Allied investigators seized documents and interrogated German codemen, it was discovered that the nazis, if they had shown better foresight and less confidence in their cypher systems, could have rendered the Bombes useless. They had designs and prototypes for machines such as the "39" version of the Enigma that would have been as secure as America´s ECM encrypting machine, which used fifteen rotors as well as irregular rotor movements to baffle its enemies."
     
  17. Erich

    Erich Alte Hase

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    and the refusal by the Nazi Hierarchy to allow Dönitz and his staff full control of the KM........the answer to them was deal with it on your own and with what you have, the KM was doomed from 43 onward
     
  18. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    The Germans were also capable for ca. two years to read the convoys´primary code the Naval Cypher Number Three until summer 1943. ( From Secret in Bulding 26 )

    -----------

    Interesting sites on the subject:

    HyperWar: Battle of in the Atlantic: Allied Communication Intelligence [Chapter 6]

    Cat and Mouse

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    Compromise of Naval Cipher #3 demonstrated, May 1943. Naval Cipher #5 introduced 10 June 1943.

    While the weakness of combined Naval Cipher #3 was appreciated in some circles it was not until May 1943 that its compromise was so thoroughly demonstrated that action could be taken. In the middle of May 1943 the Germans offered the necessary proof of combined cipher compromise in the form of three Offizier messages to groups Rhein, Elbe, and Drossel during the course of their patrol and action against convoys HX 237 and SC 129. Convinced that cipher compromise was involved, the Atlantic Section gained access to Commander 10th Fleet Convoy and Routing files. The compromised Allied dispatches were identified and the evidence was submitted to COMINCH. The conclusions were accepted.

    An exchange of signals followed between COMINCH and Admiralty involving proposals for additional security precautions, but the marked increase in similar compromise messages in German traffic toward the end of May led to the introduction of Naval Cipher #5 on 10 June.

    --------

    Other German Cryptanalytic Successes.

    In addition to Naval Cipher #3 and #5, the following systems are known to have been read by the German naval Communication intelligence organization:


    Various British Naval and Air codes (low grade): including COFOX, MEDOX, FOXO, LOXO, SYKO, Air Force code and Aircraft Movement code.

    U.S. Hagelin: A Hagelin reencryption of 26 September 1943 was read by the Germans. The compromise was noted by the British from their reading of German Mediterranean traffic.

    Anglo-French.

    Merchant signals: Supplied with the books from merchant shipping abandoned or sunk, the enemy had no difficulty with Mersigs.

    Russian: aircraft reporting system, weather system, and low grade naval traffic.
     
  19. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Something that helped the codebreakers...

    The Abwehr Enigma machine differed from the Army and Navy models, in that the mechanism that stepped the rotors used a different approach. The machine had a serious design flaw. Frequently all four wheels turned at once, which the codebreakers termed a "Lobster". When this occurred, the scrambler assembly stayed in the same configuration, except shifted by one position.

    The Abwehr Enigma
     
  20. 1911Colt

    1911Colt Member

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    My opinion is Donitz owes his fame & legacy to the success of his Capt.'s
    Kretschmer, Merten, Prien & others were the skippers who patrolled the waterways laying waste to victims & in many cases being the victim that found themselves on the bottom of the Atlantic, Med, & Caribbean. The Kriegsmarine suffered the highest mortality rate as most know, which has made me wonder why he is due so much heraldry.
     

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