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Enigma H rediscovered
Tuesday 1 August 2012

Many models and versions of the Enigma machine are known by now. The most common ones are the machines with 26 light bulbs, such as the standard Service Enigma used by the German Army before and during WWII. These machines are described in great detail elsewhere on this website.
 
Far less well known are the machines that are known as the Schreibende Enigma (printing Enigma). They were produced in small quantities by the manufacturer Chiffriermaschinen AG in Berlin (Germany) between 1923 and 1931. Three different models of the printing Enigma are known: Enigma A, Enigma B and Enigma H.

In 2005, whilst on holiday in Europe, American tourist Eric Tischer accidently photographed a machine that later turned out to be an extremely rare Enigma H29 model in a military museum in Budapest. The photo appeared on Wikipedia.
  
View of the controls of the Enigma H29 with serial number H-221

Over the past few years, we've been trying to locate that machine in order learn more about its inner secrets. This year we were lucky: with help from some good friends in Austria and Hungary, we managed to locate the museum that had an Enigma with an unknown number of wheels.
 
On 1 August 2012, Crypto Museum was invited to the Hungarian Museum of Military History in Budapest. Although we didn't know what to expect, we had good hopes. The machine was no longer on public display, but museum historian Dr. István Ravasz was so kind to have the machine carried from the vaults into his office.

As we entered the office at 10 o'clock in the morning, we immediately recognised the machine that was sitting on a small table as being the very rare and special Enigma Model H29; the machine we had been looking for.
  
Cheers to the re-discovered Enigma H-221 in Dr. Ravasz' office

We were so excited that we wanted to get our hands on the machine straight away, but Dr. Ravasz insisted that we'd bring out a toast first. The image above shows Marc Simons (Crypto Museum), Günter Hütter (Austria), Kálmán Tóth (Hungary), Peter Klampferer (Austria) and Dr. István Ravasz (Military Museum) saying 'cheers' to the machine. The photo was made by Paul Reuvers (Crypto Museum) who unfortunately could not drink on this occasion as he was the driver. Luckily Dr. Ravasz handed him the remains of the bottle so that he could toast later.

The rest of the day we spent with the machine and we made over a hundred photographs of it. We also made notes of missing parts, in case someone would later decide to restore the machine. Although the machine is a deteriorated state and many of its parts are missing, it is nevertheless a unique piece of history. A full description is now on our Enigma-H page. The museum is currently undergoing restoration but is open to the general public again. Visiting the museum is really worthwhile. There are great exhibits and they even have the grave of the unknown soldier.

We should like to thank our friends above for their tireless support in tracking down the machine and accompanying us to the museum in Budapest. Without their help, we doubt that we would ever have re-discovered the Enigma H29 with serial number H-221 and have this great day.
 
The beautiful city of Budapest The museum, currently undergoing restoration Museum entrance Cheers to the re-discovered Enigma H-221 in Dr. Ravasz' office View of the controls of the Enigma H29 with serial number H-221 Günter and Paul taking a first look at the machine A view inside the museum Paul Reuvers (left) and Dr. István Ravasz (right) at the grave of the unknown soldier.

 
Enigma partly restored
Wednesday 31 July 2013

Exactly one year later, we visited Budapest again to see how the re-discovered Enigma H29 - with serial number H-211 - was now doing. We were pleasantly surprised to learn that the H-221 had been given on loan to the Hungarian Spy Museum just 100 metres from the Military Museum.
 
The Hungarian Spy Museum is located in the Royal Cellars and provide an interesting peek in some of Hungaria's most secret historical spy equipment, ranging from Col War Stay-Behind radio sets to ultra modern radio bugs. Many of the items have never been on display before.

The Enigma H29 is part of the secret equipment exhibition. It has a proment place in the lineup and attracts a lot of attention. In the past year, the machine has been cosmetically restored, so that the keyboard, the Enigma batch and the wheels windows are now complete again.
  
The investigation team behind the H-221 (except for Paul Reuvers who made the photo)

The image above shows part of the investigation team behind the reworked Enigma H-221. At the far right is Crypto Museum Marc Simons. His colleague Paul Reuvers is missing here as he shot the picture. More about the restoration here.
 
The partly restored H-221 The restored keyboard of the H-221 Our Hungarian friend Kálmán Tóth inspecting the H-221 The investigation team behind the H-221 (except for Paul Reuvers who made the photo) The restored wheel windows The wheel windows seen from the front Close-up of the type bars The new Enigma shield at the front

 
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