The Enigma machine was used in World War 2 to help to crack the Enigma codes which helped the Allies defeat Nazi Germany in WWII. One such German-made Enigma I machine was sold for 100 euros at a flea market in Romania only to be resold for the second time for 45,000 euros.
The machine was bought at one of Bucharest’s flea markets and was put up for sale at the city’s Artmark auction house with a starting price of 9,000 euros. It was sold to an online bidder for 45,000 euros ($51,620) on Tuesday.
“The collector bought it from a flea market. He’s a cryptography professor and […] he knew very well what he was buying,” Cristian Gavrila, the collectable consignment manager at Artmark told reporters.
The Enigma machines were a series of electro-mechanical rotor cypher machines developed and used in the early- to mid-twentieth century to protect commercial, diplomatic and military communication. Enigma was invented by the German engineer Arthur Scherbius at the end of World War I. The Enigma was a type of enciphering machine used by the German armed forces to send messages securely during the second world war, in which Romania was an ally of Nazi Germany.
The Germans were convinced that Enigma output could not be broken, so they used the machine for communications on the battlefield, at sea, in the sky and within the secret services. Enigma allowed an operator to type in a message, then scramble it by means of three to five notched wheels, or rotors, which displayed different letters of the alphabet. The receiver needed to know the exact settings of these rotors in order to reconstitute the coded text. Over the years the basic machine became more complicated, as German code experts added plugs with electronic circuits.