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Decoding Nazi Secrets

Program Overview


NOVA tells the story of how the Allies are able to crack codes produced by Enigma, a supposedly impenetrable German cipher machine, and thereby influence the course of WWII.

The program:

  • describes how Enigma can produce more configurations for any particular message than there are grains of sand on Earth.

  • tells how the British government secretly invited men and women of all ages and abilities—including Egyptologists, anthropologists, paleontologists, mathematicians, and crossword puzzle enthusiasts—to unravel the Enigma cipher at Station X, a mansion 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of London.

  • relates the patience, team effort, and absolute secrecy needed to accomplish the task.

  • explains how codebreakers at Station X recognized the role that human error played in helping to break the code.

  • describes how the work at Station X gave Allied commanders essential information to attack the enemy effectively and reroute military personnel to avoid German attack.

Teacher's Guide
Decoding Nazi Secrets
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