ENIGMA interception memorandum

To: Sir Edward Wilfred Travis, Deputy Director
From: Col. Lionel Pierce (Bletchley Park)
Date: 6 November 1944
Re: German project in Upper Silesia

Sir Edward:

In obedience to your order of October 26, I have directed the staff of my section to identify and analyze intelligence relevant to an understanding of special German military assets and projects that are located in areas that we expect the Soviets to take in the next 60 days. This memorandum discusses such a German asset. The Jerries have it in East Upper Silesia near Kattowitz, an area that we expect Marshal Konev to overrun in the next few weeks. In view of the implications of the Soviets acquiring and possessing this asset, I wanted to get this report to you immediately.

I attach three exhibits:

Exhibit 1: Plaintext decrypt of an intercepted pre-war ENIGMA communication. As this was an older message, we didn’t prioritize breaking the code on this one, and it remained in the queue until a few weeks ago when one of the lads took it up as a training exercise.
Exhibit 2: Intercepted orders dated 7 August 1941 from R. Heydrich to Dr. Eduard Wirths regarding the construction of a facility to house the asset.
Exhibit 3: Protocol for handling the asset.

I respectfully suggest that Command convey this information (in particular, Exhibit 3) to the Soviets through appropriate channels. They need to know what to do when they get there- and more pointedly, what not to do.

L. Pierce



Exhibit 1:

24 January 1939
To: Dr. Schmidt, Neuschwabenland, [coordinates]
From: SS-Gruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich, Reichssicherheitshauptamt
Heil Hitler! Allow me to be among the first to congratulate you and your team on your discovery at Austvorren Ridge [Col. Pierce’s note: German name for geographic feature at 73°6′S by 1°35′W)]. Berlin has been following the reports of your expedition to Antarctica with the closest attention. Although the erbsenzähler [translated as “bean-counters”] will probably be less than pleased that the establishment of a German whaling station on the Antarctic continent has proved to be impracticable, that setback cannot diminish the results of your valuable scientific work.

The ship Neuschwabenland is to remain in the Antarctic for a few more weeks. You and your team, however, are directed to return to return to Germany immediately, and bring her with you. [Col. Pierce’s note: Here and elsewhere, the Jerries refer to the asset as “she”, or “her”. See Exhibit 3 for our best effort at a physical description.] In eleven days, the Kriegsmarine will dispatch U-38 from Wilhelmshaven to pick you up and convey you to Hamburg. U-38’s three forward compartments have been modified into a Kammer für Rückhaltung [translated as “containment chamber”]. Feed her, if you must, then freeze her just as you had found her, then crate her and get her aboard the U-boat with as much discretion as possible-Captain Mootz of U-38 has been instructed not to ask questions. You must get her back to the Reich as quickly as possible, as political events in the near future may inconvenience sea access to Antarctica in the short term.

You were very brave to dig her up and thaw her out. Do not second-guess your own decision based upon what happened: it is upon courageous men like you that the Reich’s vitality and glory depend. Upon your arrival in Hamburg, you will be presented with the Reich’s highest honours. The remains of expedition members Hess, Gruber, Schneider and Joachim will also be given an honourable burial— in truth, not a burial, given the circumstances, but I am sure that their widows will appreciate the gesture.

Reinhard Heydrich, Director- Sicherheitspolizei

[Col. Pierce’s note: We know from subsequent intercepted communications that U-38 returned to Hamburg in late February 1939 and delivered Ernst Schmidt, a few researchers, a large metal tank and several tons of other equipment. This journey was not without incident—based on some intercepted communications between U-38 and Admiral Dönitz’s headquarters in early February 1939, it appears that the crew of U-38 attempted to mutiny and scuttle the boat at sea about 120 miles southwest of the Faroe Islands. However, Captain Mootz was able to re-assert control on 18 February and notified Admiral Dönitz regarding the same. U-38 was retired from service following arrival and disassembled. The tank was loaded onto a rail car and sent eastward- our man on the ground tracked it as far as Dresden.]

Exhibit 2

7 August 1941
To: Dr. Wirths
From: SS-Gruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich, Reichssicherheitshauptamt
Heil Hitler! In four days, you will take delivery of the asset that we discussed after the conference back in June. Gruppe G: Technische Arbeitsmittel of the Abteilung Nachrichtenbeschaffung [Col. Pierce's note: We believe that this organization directs the Wehrmacht's research division] has attempted, for the last two years, to make a reliable weapon out of her, without success. She is voracious and deadly, to be sure, but she has consistently been as great a danger to our personnel as to the enemy. Since we have not yet found an effective way of permanently neutralizing her, we are shipping her to you so that she may serve the Reich in a different way.

In your letter of 22 July, you noted that the research that Hauptsturmführer Dr. Mengele will be undertaking under your direction could be carried out with greater efficiency if there were a reliable means of rapidly disposing of the detritus of failed tests. We believe that she will serve admirably in this capacity at the Vernichtungslager that you are constructing. However, in order that she may serve this function safely, we have learned from experience that she must be contained in accordance with the attached protocol, which must be observed diligently and without fail.


[Col. Pierce's Note: The protocol document to which Exhibit 2 refers is attached as Exhibit 3.]]

Exhibit 3

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