A pair of rare Enigma machines used in the Spanish Civil War has been given to the head of GCHQ, Britain’s communications intelligence agency. The machines – only recently discovered in Spain – fill in a missing chapter in the history of British code-breaking, paving the way for crucial successes in World War II.
A non-commissioned officer found the machines almost by chance, only a few years ago, in a secret room at the Spanish Ministry of Defence in Madrid.
“Nobody entered there because it was very secret,” says Felix Sanz, the director of Spain’s intelligence service.
“And one day somebody said ‘Well if it is so secret, perhaps there is something secret inside.’ They entered and saw a small office where all the encryption was produced during not only the civil war but in the years right afterwards.”