Reward raised for return of Enigma

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The Independent Online

The Bletchley Park Museum was yesterday awaiting instructions for handing over the £25,000 ransom money in exchange for the safe return of the stolen Nazi Enigma code-breaking machine.

The Bletchley Park Museum was yesterday awaiting instructions for handing over the £25,000 ransom money in exchange for the safe return of the stolen Nazi Enigma code-breaking machine.

In letters threatening to destroy it, the directors were given until midnight to hand over the money. They are convinced the author of the ransom demands is genuine and have raised the cash. The letter-writer claims to be acting for a third party who bought the Second World War encryption device in good faith and discovered only later that it had been stolen last April.

John Brett, a spokesman for Thames Valley Police, said: "They are wanting recompense for something they bought in good will - they want their money back. We are hoping this person is going to get in touch." Police are treating the claims seriously because the letter-writer has included a photo of the identification plate of the G312 machine. The latest letter also quotes a code word. The letters were posted from the West Midlands, west London and Milton Keynes.

Christine Large, the director of the museum near Milton Keynes, said: "If we don't hear anything then we will have to assume that it was either an elaborate hoax, which we don't believe, or that someone was playing a game and never intended to hand it back, or that they have destroyed it. It would be historic vandalism to destroy it. It is an irreplaceable piece of history. I very much want it back. We have the funds available. We just need to be in direct communication. This is the time to do business."

The capture of the Enigma ciphers by the Navy's HMS Petard from a sinking U559 in May 1941 was a turning point in the war. This allowed Bletchley Park codebreakers to track and help sink U-boats that were taking a massive toll of vital food and arms convoys.

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