The National Cryptologic Museum Library holds a unique collection and archives of unclassified and declassified books, documents, and memorabilia focusing on cryptology and cryptologic history. The goals of the Library are to support the activities of the National Cryptologic Museum, to present an overview of the topical literature and materials to museum visitors, and to provide research facilities for those interested in the subject. The Library, a non-lending institution, welcomes academicians, historians, research fellows, high school students, and cryptology buffs to avail themselves of the wealth of historical and primary source materials. Rene Stein, Museum Librarian, is available to assist visitors in using the collection.
We have completed the purchase of a very rare 1863 German language book on cryptology from a private European seller for $750. The book, “Die Geheimschriften und die Dechiffrierkunst” ("Secret Writing and the Art of Deciphering") was written by Major Friedrich Wilhelm Kasiski, a German infantry officer and cryptographer. The book is in excellent condition for its age and is bound together with a second book not related to cryptography. Kasiski's book is believed to be the first published account of a procedure for attacking polyalphabetic substitution ciphers, especially the Vigenère cipher. The significance of Kasiski's cryptanalytic work was not widely realized at the time. Cryptologic historian Dr. David Kahn notes, "Kasiski died on May 22, 1881, almost certainly without realizing that he had wrought a revolution in cryptology" (The Codebreakers). There are only a few known copies of this book in museums and 3 or 4 in the hands of private collectors. In one of his writings Dr. Kahn indicated that Kasiski's book had eluded him and it was still a book he coveted. Considering the book collection that Dr. Kahn donated to the National Cryptologic Museum had some of the rarest cryptology books in the world, this is fairly high praise for the Kasiski book
According to his memoirs in The Story of Magic, when Frank Rowlett reported to work as the first junior cryptanalyst in the Signal Service at Large on April 1, 1930, William Friedman told him that the best books on cryptography and cryptanalysis were not in English. Because he knew Rowlett had studied German he gave him a copy of the Kasiski book because it contained “some good explanations of a variety of cipher systems” and left him to begin his study. A week later Rowlett was joined by Solomon Kullback and Abraham Sinkov, and the training of Friedman’s first junior cryptanalysts began in earnest.
Pictures of the bound Kasiski book and title page are included below.
British author, publisher and broadcaster Michael Smith has written "Bletchley Park - the Code-Breakers of Station X". The book, though slim, has over seventy illustrations, many of them from the BP archives. A copy has been donated to the NCM library. Reviews, by this writer, are expected to appear in future issues of the ACA's Cryptogram and in the USNCVA's Cryptolog.
The History of the U.S. Air Force Security Service Volumes IV and V (left below) were graciously donated by author and former USAFSS veteran Larry Tart. Honto II, The Pictorial History of the USAF Security Service at Misawa, Japan (center) was purchased on line. D-DAY was purchased from a local retailer. The D-DAY book (right) has a chapter devoted to Enigma and the role of code-breaking to the success of the D-Day landings.
The following are some of the books received by the library from the most recent donation by David Kahn.
AC Vice Chairman David Hamer recently donated the latest book by former GCHQ Director Sir Arthur Bonsall, titled An Uphill Struggle. This report, No. 21 in a continuing series, provides an account of air tactical signals intelligence (SIGINT) in Europe during WW II. Sir Arthur autographed this copy for the NCM Library.
Former USA Security Agency member Wayne Lippert recently donated a copy of the book Navajo Weapon, by Sally McClain. The book was signed by the author and two Navajo Code Talkers: Keith Little and Samuel Holiday, who both served in the USMC, 4th Marine Division during World War II. Both men are pictured below.
Keith Little Samuel T. Holiday
The 1946 Marine Radio Manual and a 5-volume 1925 set of Radio Telegraphy And Telephony were donated by retired NSA employee Jenny Beach. The Codebreaker Kids Return was donated by the AC Chairman Dave D’Auria.
Purchased for the NCM Library from a book wholesaler for $19.
The NCMF recently purchased a two-disc CD ROM set containing over 1,000 (mostly US) patents for cryptographic systems. The set was acquired for the NCM Library from a Foundation patron for $25.
The NCMF purchased this 2-DVD History Channel production for the NCM Library for $15. The DVDs include chapters on WW II OSS activities; spying during the Cold War; spy tools and technology; spy planes; famous traitors such as Walker, Whitworth and Pelton; Venona; and, Echelon, billed as “the most secret spy system”.
The National Cryptologic Museum Library has on display an autographed letter of Napoleon Bonaparte ordering the continued interception of foreign letters. Written to his adopted son, Eugene de Beauharnais, whom he had made viceroy of the kingdom of Naples, it is pictured below and the English translation follows:
“St. Cloud. 24 June 1806. My son: Continue to send me the letters of the archbishop of Silesia, sent from Rome to Dresden; they have found the cipher here, so that we can read them like ordinary writing; but it is necessary to let them go on their way while copying them exactly. Nap.”
Napoleon was then at the height of his power. He had crowned himself emperor of the French, had just won just his great victory at Austerlitz over the Austrian and Russian armies, and had forced Prussia to accept a humiliating treaty. He was master of Europe. The defeat of his fleet by Nelson at Trafalgar prevented him from invading Britain. So early in 1806, he turned east. In the path of that stride lay Silesia. This area -- never a separate country –lies in what is today southwest Poland. Its largest city was Breslau (Wroclaw, in Polish) and its archbishop – the target of Napoleon’s interception -- was Prince Joseph Christian von Hohenlohe-Bartenstein, member of an ancient German family. Apparently assigned to or visiting the Vatican, had been communicating with people in Dresden, the beautiful capital of the kingdom of Saxony, Silesia’s neighbor to the west. It was the prince’s letters that Napoleon wanted to open, copy, and forward while secretly solving, reading, and exploiting them.
A decade earlier, Napoleon had conquered Italy and named himself king. By then he had married Josephine de Beauharnais and adopted her son, Eugene. Eugene had proved himself brave in combat and able in administration, and in 1805 Napoleon named him viceroy of Italy. He was therefore in a position to control the mail.
On the 24 June that he issued his instructions to Eugene, Napoleon was in his residence at St. Cloud, on the Seine west of Paris. Like most authoritarian rulers, he had a letter-opening office – that being the wiretapping of the day. His lay in Coq Héron street; probably it used current techniques: thin heated knives to lift the wax seals off the paper, slender flexible rods with a slot to furl letters around and extract them without having to open the envelope, cryptanalysts to solve the enciphered portions Napoleon received the intercepts every morning in a small red moroccan envelope marked “Foreign newspapers.” After reading them, and perhaps making decisions based on their information, he burned them.
The letter to his stepson was not the only instruction about mail that he issued. He ordered him on 27 January 1806 to intercept the mail of the queen of Naples, and Eugene said he set up a bureau to intercept all English mail. None of these sources say what information these sources provided or how Napoleon used it. It probably did not much help Napoleon to win the battle of Jena in October 1806, and could not have hurt in arranging the alliance two months later between France and Saxony.
How did a Napoleon document get to the National Cryptologic Museum? It is recorded in 1863 as being in the archive of the duchess of Leuchtenberg, an heir of Eugene, who had been awarded the dukedom (Correspondance de Napoléon Ier [Paris: Imprimerie impérial, 1862], vol. 12, p. 594, No. 10408 [in which Silésie is incorrectly given as Séléucie, a city of ancient Babylon]. The document next surfaced in the now defunct New York department store, B. Altman. No documents say how it reached private hands for sale to B. Altman, but probably someone with access to that repository stole it and sold it for its value as a Napoleon signature. The store sold it to David Kahn, with a letter attesting to its legitimacy. Kahn donated it to the National Cryptologic Museum Library. It remains displayed there as a dramatic example of how one of the greatest generals of all time valued communications intelligence. (Write up by David Kahn)
Tim Robarts continues to be a very welcomed source of support for the NCM Library. He recently purchased and donated three more books to our collection. Cover photos are included below.
One of the books was an uncorrected proof copy of “American Espionage: From the Secret Service to CIA”. Three books dealt with German Secret Service espionage activities and conspiracies in the U.S. during both WW I and WW II, too include German wireless operations. The last and perhaps the most interesting book was on “Spies and Scouts of the North and South” during the Civil War, too include the use of secret codes and ciphers. Inside leaf photos are included below.
- Last Updated - 6/11/2013
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