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Open day at Fort aan den Ham
Including Enigma presentation and demonstration

The Fort aan den Ham is one of the 42 forts of the Stelling van Amsterdam (the defence line of Amsterdam) [1]. It was built between 1996 and 1903 and was intended as the last line of defense, that could sustain a seige of six months. The Fort is located in Uitgeest, N/W of Amsterdam [2].

The Fort has been fully restored and is constanly being maintained by volunteers. The Fort is on the UNESCO list of World Heritage and since 1994 it is regularly open to the general public.

On Sunday 25 August 2013, there is a special open day with two important themes. The first one is the breaking of a large 'unbreakable' safe that has been lying around in the fort for several years. More about this below.

The second theme is the famous German WWII Enigma cipher machine shown on the right.

During WWII, the Enigma machines were used by the German Wehrmacht, the Luftwaffe and the Kriegsmarine, for sending messages that could not be read by the enemy. Like the safe, the Enigma was believed by the Germans to be unbreakable, but history has proven otherwise.

The first attack at Enigma was mounted by the Poles, as early as 1933. After the start of WWII, their efforts were taken over by the British who set up an operation, known as Bletchley Park, to attack the secret German messages on a massive scale. Over 12,000 people were involved in the code breaking operation just north of London.

During the Open Day on 25 August, historian Henk van Stigt will conduct an Enigma lecture at the Fort, starting at 13:00. To highlight this special event, Crypto Museum will be showing an operational wartime Enigma machine on site.

The Fort opens at 10:00 and there will be plenty to see. Crypto Museum will be demonstrating the Enigma and will bring some other Enigma-related items as well. If you've always wanted to touch and smell a real Enigma machine, now is your chance. Crypto Museum curators Paul Reuvers and Marc Simons will both be present and will be most happy to answer your questions.

Unbreakable safe
Inside the Fort is a safe that is believed to be 'unbreakable'. The safe was initially owned by the Chemical Lab of TNO in Delft (Netherlands) and ended up in the Fort somewhere between 1990 and 1995. As the code to the safe is unknown, several people have made an attempt to open it in the past. A few months ago, the general public was invited to make an attempt as well.

Like all earlier efforts however, these attempts have failed and the safe remained unbroken. For this reason, professional safe-cracker Barry Wels of Amsterdam (Netherlands) has been called in.

Barry, who is the former chairman of the Dutch Lock Pickers Society TOOOL, used a special robot that was able to try all possible combinations in about three days.

Update 19 August 2013:
The safe is now open [5].
Photograph copyright Maarten Edelenbosch, RTV-NH [3]

  1. Wikipedia, Stelling van Amsterdam
    Dutch. Retrieved August 2013.

  2. Stelling van Amsterdam, Fort aan den Ham
    Website. Retrieved August 2013.

  3. RTV Noord-Holland, Robot gaat niet te kraken kluis te lijf
    Robot attacks unbreakable safe (Dutch). 15 August 2013.

  4. Jochem Davidse,Sleutelfiguur, geen slot is veilig voor de slotenkoning
    Panorama NRS, 2011. pp. 18-22.

  5. Fort aan den Ham, De kluis is open
    Website. 19 August 2013.
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Crypto Museum. Last changed: Friday, 03 July 2020 - 09:05 CET.
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