The urgent, dramatic and untold story of how British and Allied codebreakers broke into thousands of secret SS and Gestapo messages detailing the mass killings of the Holocaust, and how the Germans in turn used cryptanalysis to try and conceal their persecution of Europe’s Jews.
The Holocaust Codes tells the compelling and fast-paced story of the decryption of the Final Solution from the points of view of two central and opposing characters who never meet, of a battle between good and evil, between life and mass death, a war of electronic wits and cat-and-mouse.
At Bletchley Park, Britain’s legendary wartime codebreaking centre, was the brilliant but undersung British codebreaker Nigel De Grey. ‘Beethoven with the soul of an accountant,’ as perfect cryptanalysts were once described, De Grey was shy, often silent, and physically small, and his subordinates at Bletchley Park nicknamed him ‘The Dormouse.’
In Occupied Poland, SS Major Hermann Hoefle was an Austrian former car mechanic, a loyal acolyte of Himmler and one of the Third Reich’s leading bureaucrats of mass death. He lead an Einsatzkommando execution squad in Poland, oversaw the eradication of the Warsaw Ghetto, and then ran extermination operations that killed over a million Jews at five camps in Poland, including Treblinka and Belzec. Fully aware the Allies could be reading his secret messages, he used complex codes and signals intelligence to try and conceal the hideous truth of what was taking place in the camps he ran.
From 1941 to 1945, from the massacres of Jews in the Ukraine and the Baltic states, to the Warsaw Ghetto and the extermination camps at Auschwitz and Treblinka, the dynamic De Grey oversaw Bletchley Park’s decryption of the Third Reich’s persecution of Europe’s Jews. Along with his American counterparts, he struggled to make sure the crucial information reached Winston Churchill, and President Franklin D.Roosevelt. The British and Americans also operated with a network of codebreakers and intelligence experts from the Soviet Union, France, The Vatican, Switzerland, Poland and even double-agents inside Nazi Germany.
The book also investigates how, and why, a cabal of key senior British government and intelligence officials either disbelieved, or ignored, repeated intelligence reports about the ongoing Final Solution, thus making it harder for the Allies to take any concerted effective action that might have impeded the persecution of Europe’s Jews.
The book examines what happened to the Holocaust signals after the war, from Britain, the US, to Europe and the Soviet Union, now they formed part of the physical historiography of the Final Solution. Controversy surrounds whether some were actually used as evidence at Nuremberg, while some were deliberately destroyed, some lost, some archived and some deliberately concealed.
And what was the fate after the war of Nigel De Grey and Hermann Hoefle, as the Cold War began and old enemies became new allies? The Holocaust Codes reaches a dramatic ending, as justice is finally served, but in a highly unexpected and surprising way.
Christian Jennings is a British author and foreign correspondent, and the author of ten non-fiction books of modern history and current affairs. These include the acclaimed The Third Reich is Listening: Inside German Codebreaking 1939-1945, the first comprehensive account in English of German wartime cryptanalysis. His latest book is The Holocaust Codes: Decrypting the Final Solution. He has lectured for Bletchley Park on German codebreaking, and from 1994-2012 he spent fifteen years reporting for newspapers and TV on international current affairs and complex war crimes investigatio...
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