The last German military communications decoded at Bletchley Park in World War Two have been revealed to mark the seventy-fifth anniversary of Victory in Europe Day.
In 1944, a German military radio network, codenamed BROWN, had extended across Europe sending reports about the development of experimental weapons. In May 1945 the base was making its last stand at Cuxhaven, a town on Germany’s North Sea Coast.
As the Allies entered the town and closed in on the radio operator’s position, Lieutenant Kunkel signed off to any colleagues who might still be listening.
His words - broadcasted at 07:35 on 7 May - would be the last message from the German military intercepted by codebreakers at Bletchley Park before the surrender.
"British troops entered Cuxhaven at 1400 on 6 May. From now on all radio traffic will cease - wishing you all the best. Closing down for ever - all the best - goodbye".
Bletchley Park's war-time work breaking enemy codes - most famously those made by the Enigma machine - was kept entirely secret, not just during the war, but for many years afterwards.
The cracking of the Enigma code is now often compared to a relay race. The first relay was carried out by the Polish Cipher Bureau who started the first ever code-breaking course. They recruited a timid mathematician Marian Rejewski, who became the first man ever to break the code. Material to his achievement was information obtained by French agent Captain Bertrand through espionage. The Cipher Bureau passed the secret of how to break the Enigma code to the British and French just before Poland was invaded in 1939. The Poles continued their code breaking work in difficult conditions in France until they were forced to flee from the Gestapo after the whole of France was occupied after the North Africa landings in 1942. Thereafter the bulk of the code-breaking work was continued at Bletchley Park in England and in the United States.
The intelligence produced by cracking the Enigma code has been credited with shortening the war by at least two years and saving many thousands of lives.
After Germany surrendered, Victory in Europe Day was declared on the Eighty of May and has been celebrated on that day ever since. Many European countries have a public holiday on the eighth of May. Germany made the day a public holiday for the first time in 2020.
Author of The Cypher Bureau