Ciphers and Codes The Hidden World by R.A. Haldane
An excerpt from the book The Hidden World by R.A. Haldane a look at ciphers, codes, and hidden communication, examples of censors spotting codes.
THE HIDDEN WORLD by R. A. Haldane. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1976.
About the Book: A former British intelligence officer has written this history of ciphers, codes, and other types of hidden communication from earliest times to the present. He explains how they work and how they may be broken. There is much about the important role of ciphers and codes during the two world wars and accounts of many clever spies of tat period. Most of us are intrigued to at least some degree by the world of spies, and this easy-to-understand book gives a good explanation of how the technical side of the spy business operates.
From the Book:
There is ..... a classic story which goes back to the 1914-18 war; it has been told so often that its source has been lost in the telling. At that time telegrams were automatically held up for forty-eight hours, lest they form some kind of secret message. A cable from this country to Holland arrived on the censor's desk. It read: "Father is dead." That was all. The censor became suspicious. For an announcement of a family bereavement it looked a bit bald; on the other hand it might be quite genuine. He changed it to "Father is deceased" and sent it on its way. The answer, which also arrived on the censor's desk, read: "Is father dead or deceased?"
It was an alert girl in the Censor's Office whose curiosity led to the arrest of the German spy Carl Lody, also in World War I. He submitted a telegram for transmission to Sweden. It read: "Aunt, please send money immediately. I am absolutely broke. Thank heaven those German swine are on the run." She did not know whether it was in cipher or code or meant what it said, but she wondered why, if the author was absolutely broke, he should waste money on the last and irrelevant sentence. Censors have their parts to play in spotting suspicious communications. In fact, kisses at the bottom of soldiers' letters home have usually been obliterated lest the crosses form some kind of concealed writing, although no doubt the kindlier censors preferred to achieve the same objective by adding on a string of kisses of their own.
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