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The Soviets’ Unbreakable Code

The Soviets’ Unbreakable Code
The hidden history of the Fialka espionage machine.

By Anna Borshchevskaya, Foreign Policy writer on Pocket.

A selection from the article is included below. Read the full article online via Pocket.

In the early days of the Cold War, the Soviet Union needed a foolproof way to encrypt the messages it sent to its allies. This was a daunting task: The previous pinnacle in cryptography, the German Enigma machine, had been cracked. And not only would any new communications system have to be unbreakable, but it would also have to work across languages as diverse as Polish, Hungarian, German, Romanian, Spanish, and, of course, Russian. The Soviet Union needed a technological wonder.

Enter the Fialka—Russian for “violet.” Created at the end of World War II and introduced in 1956, the Fialka replaced the Albatross, a Soviet cipher machine that was itself more complex than the Enigma. By the 1970s, Fialka encryption machines had been widely adopted by Warsaw Pact and other communist nations, and they remained in use until the early 1990s.....Read more

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