Enigma (novel)

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Enigma (original title: ENIGMA , 1995) is a novel published in Germany in 1996 by the English writer Robert Harris . He tells a fictional espionage story. This thematizes the deciphering work of the British code breakers ("code breakers") in Bletchley Park , England, against the background of the submarine war in the Atlantic at the height of the Second World War .


In February 1943, the mathematician and cryptanalyst Tom Jericho is brought back from Cambridge to Bletchley Park. His task is to decipher the German radio messages encrypted with the Enigma machine . It turns out that the Germans suddenly changed their procedural rules. As a result, the British are no longer able to break the German radio messages , with the help of which they were able to determine the position and course of the German submarines until then . The supply convoys coming from America , which are currently on their way to Europe, are in great danger because they are no longer able to avoid the submarine packs .

At the same time, Tom's ex-girlfriend Claire Romilly mysteriously disappears and is suspected of being a spy . Together with Hester Wallace, her friend, roommate and colleague, Jericho tries to uncover her disappearance. They eventually encounter in their research that Claire Enigma radio messages had stolen, which showed that the German Wehrmacht , the traces of the Red Army committed the Katyn massacre had found. This is extremely sensitive information that must definitely be kept secret from the British public in order not to discredit the allied Soviet Union .

However, this realization leads Tom on the trail of the traitor in his own ranks. It is Pukowski, a Polish colleague of Jericho, whose father was murdered in the massacre and who therefore hates the Soviets. Pukowski intends to take revenge by revealing the "Enigma secret" , ie the British ability to break the Enigma, to the Germans, as the enemy of his enemy, and thus harm the Soviets. This is prevented at the last moment. Pukowski is shot while trying to escape and Tom is shot. He eventually finds out that Claire is really an agent and is still alive.


“No matter how hopeless the situation was, the rule was always: do something. No cryptogram , used Alan Turing to say, has ever decrypts by mere gaze. "

- Robert Harris : Enigma . Heyne, Munich 1995, ISBN 3-453-09077-2 , p. 138.


The novel was filmed in 2001 under the direction of Michael Apted .


The original edition was published in 1995 by Random House , London / New York, with the rights reserved by Robert Harris.

  • Robert Harris: Enigma. Translated from English by Christel Wiemken. Heyne, Munich 1996, ISBN 978-3-453-11593-4 .

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