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Andreas Figl
Army Colonel and Cryptologist

Andreas Figl (22 June 1873 - 11 November 1967) was an Austrian army officer 1 and autodidact cryptologist. He was the founder of the Austrian cipher bureau, as well as the country's code­breaking organisation. In 1926, whilst working for the Foreign Office, he wrote his book Systeme des Chiffrierens [I] (cipher systems). His second book Systeme des Dechiffrierens [II] (systems for deciphering) – a codebreaking guide – was probited by the authorities and was never published.

Born on 22 June 1873 in Vienna (Austria), Figl grew up in Vienna and Sarajevo (Yugoslavia). 2 He started an education as Army Cadet at the age of 14 and was promoted Lieutenant in 1891.

After a work-related accident in 1910, he retired as Army Captain (Hauptmann), but was recalled a year later to build new the cipher organisation of the Austrian Army. 3 Over the course of the next two decades he gained international recognition as a cryptographic expert. From 1920 until his official retirement in 1937, he worked for the Austrian Foreign Office (Außenministerium) [1].
Andreas Figl

In 1926, he produced Systeme des Chiffrierens (cipher systems), as a scientific publication of the criminalistic laboratory of the Vienna Police [I]. It contains 243 pages and 45 attachments, and is internationally recognised as one of the leading publications on classic cipher systems of the era.

It was his intention to produce another book a year later (1927) on the subject of code­breaking. It was called Systeme des Dechiffrierens (systems for deciphering), and comprised three parts [II], but the manuscript was confiscated by the authorities, and for any further crypto-related articles, Figl had to seek permission from the Austrian government first. It would be his last publication. Apparently the authorities did not want any code­breaking knowledge in the hands of the public.

Figl remained bitter about this decision, and kept secretly improving his manuscript. And even after his retirement, on 1 July 1937, he kept doing so. The last known addition was as late as 1953 [4]. In 1960, he became advisor to the newly established Bundesheer (Federal Army), but it was not until his 90th birthday, in 1963, that he was officially honoured for his work. Figl, the Altmeister of Austrian cryptography, died on 11 November 1967 in Salzburg (Austria), aged 94.

  1. His higest rank was Oberstleutnant (Lieutenant Colonel), not General as in some publications.
  2. Now: Bosnia and Herzegovia.
  3. Known as kaiserliche und königliche Armee, abbreviated k.u.k. Armee (imperial and royal army) [2].

  1. Systeme des Chiffrierens 1
    Wissenschafliche Veröffentlichungen des Kriminalistischen Laboratoriums der Polizeidirektion Wien. Andreas Figl. Graz, April 1926 (in German language).
     Beilagen (attachments)

  2. Systeme des Dechiffrierens
    Andreas Figl. Graz, 1927. Unpublished manuscript.
  1. Scanned by Arthur Bauer and available from his website.  More (off-site)

  1. Andreas Figl, Hofrat i.R. und Oberst a.D., Leben und Werk, 1873-1967
    Altmeister der österreichischen Enträtselung und kryptographischen Wissenschaft
    Otto J. Horak. Linz, 2005. ISBN 978-3-85487-779-X.

  2. Was übrich blieb
    Kommentare zu Andreas Figl, Leben und Werk, 1873-1967.
    Otto J. Horak. Linz, 2005. ISBN 978-3-85487-790-0.

  3. Oberst a.D. Andreas Figl under der k.u.k. Radiohorch- und Dechiffrierdienst
    Otto J. Horak. Linz, 2011. ISBN 978-3-902475-90-9.
  1. Wikipedia (Germany), Andreas Figl
    Retrieved August 2020.

  2. Wikipedia, Common Army
    Retrieved August 2020.  German version

  3. Walter Blasi, Datensicherheit und Enträtselungskunst
    Über das Verbergen und Entschlüsseln von Informationsinhalten.
    SIAK Journal - Zeitschrift für Polizeiwissenschaft und polizeiliche Praxis (1), 62-73. 2014

  4. Otto J. Horak, Andreas Figl, Leben und Werk (biography)
    Linz, 2005. ISBN 978-3-85487-779-X. pp. 229-254. [a]

  5. Herbert Paulis, The Scheubele Apparatus
    Cryptologia 31, 2007, pp. 194-178.
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Crypto Museum. Created: Monday 24 August 2020. Last changed: Thursday, 14 October 2021 - 11:24 CET.
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