A long-lost machine that allowed Nazis to send secret messages has been found at the bottom of the Baltic Sea.
The infamous Enigma device allowed users to write encrypted notes and helped Hitler’s leading officers send secure military commands.
Copies of the machine were badly destroyed by the Allies, who needed the parts to decrypt the messages.
The machines were featured in the 2014 historical drama The Imitation Garden.
Deciphering German intelligence was a crucial operation for code breakers during World War II and played a part in getting the Allies to the top.
One of the elusive machines has now been found by dumbfounded divers during an operation to protect marine life from abandoned fishing nets.
The decades-old war technology was found on the seabed in the Baltic Sea.
Gabriele Dederer of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), which hired the divers, said it was a unique discovery.
“The WWF has been working for many years to rid the Baltic of dangerous ghost nets,” she said.
“We regularly find larger objects in which the nets get entangled underwater.
“Such so-called ‘hook points’ are often tree trunks or stones. The Enigma is by far the most exciting historical find. “
The machine was salvaged at the bottom of Gelting Bay in Northern Germany.
It was found after Submaris, a company based in Kiel, used side-view sonar technology to identify the net in which it was caught.
Florian Huber, a diver at Submaris, said the machine was likely sent to its watery resting place in May 1945.
That month, 47 German U-boats were sunk in Gelting Bay by crew members determined not to let them fall into the hands of the Allies.
“We suspect that our Enigma went overboard during this event,” said Mr. Huber.
He added that copies of the machine are now “extremely rare” and “only a few copies are available in German museums”.
“As an underwater archaeologist I have already made many exciting and strange discoveries,” he continued.
“I didn’t think we would ever find an Enigma machine, though.
“It was a gray November day that I will not soon forget.”
The newly discovered Enigma has now been sent to the restoration workshop at the Schleswig Archaeological Museum for conservation and further research.