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Dr. Erich Hüttenhain

Dr. Erich Hüttenhain (26 January 1905 - 1 December 1990) was a German academic and crypto­grapher. During WWII, he was head of the cryptanalysis unit at OKW/Chi, the cipher department of the High Command of the Wehrmacht (OKW). 1 He was considered a leading cryptanalist of the Third Reich [1]. After the war, he worked for the new US-established German intelligence service Organisation Gehlen (OG) and later also for its successor, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND).

Erich Hüttenhain studied at the universities of Marburg, Frankfurt and Münster. At the latter he graduated in mathematics in 1933. In 1936 he began working for OKW/Chi, where he was tasked with setting up a cryptanalytic research unit. He eventually became Executive Council Head of Group IV Analytical Cryptanalysis [1].

During WWII, Hüttenhain and his staff enjoyed several successes. They managed to break the Japanese Purple machine, and also (temporarily) succeeded in breaking certain American rotor machines – like the M-138A and the M-209 – whilst these were being used in North Africa. Apparently, he had not been able to break the American high level cipher machine SIGABA.

After the war — being a high value target — the Americans took him to the USA for interrogation by the Target Intelligence Committee (TICOM).

Whilst in the US, he built a machine for breaking the Russian rotor machine encryption (which was also done by the Germans during WWII). In 1947, he returned to Germany — where he worked under the pseudonym Erich Hammerschmidt — to found the Society of scientific work within the newly established German intelligence service - Organisation Gehlen (OG) - which later became Zentralstelle für das Chiffrierwesen (ZfCh) of its successor, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND).

    OKW = Obercommando der Wehrmacht (High Command of the German Armed Forces).

Mentions on this website
H-54 pin-wheel cipher machine (CX-52 clone) TSEC/KL7 (Adonis, Pollux) Enigma Z, the numbers-only Enigma Friedman papers: Secret deal between Hagelin and the NSA
Dr. Erich Hüttenhain is mentioned on the above pages on this website.

  1. Wikipedia, Erich Hüttenhain
    Retrieved January 2019.  German version

  2. Wikipedia, TICOM
    Retrieved January 2019.
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© Crypto Museum. Created: Monday 15 January 2018. Last changed: Wednesday, 16 January 2019 - 10:33 CET.
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