ENIGMA 2000 Newsletter - Issue 31

November 2005
Articles, newsreports and Items of interest :enigma2000-owner@yahoogroups.com

Morse stations | Voice stations | Oddities | Polytones
Beginners corner | German branch | Numbers predictions
Confirmed end user of number transmissions
Verwaltung Aufklärung | E10 schedule research
HJH's watch | Secret service on the short wave | Killing of Colonel Callan
News Items | Web sites | Contribution deadlines
Index | E2K NL Home

Secret service on the short wave

Translation of article in “Radio Kurier” 2002 (All copyright on article and all else remains with “Radio Kurier”)

From our German Desk we are able to offer this translation [all copyright remains with source]:

ATTENTION! 1234567890

Lehmann, listen that’s code! On the amateur band, someone’s sending code! Can you hear it? Where’s that coming from?” Actually, Bogner you’re right. That is encrypted, stay on it, Ill write it down as well.” And as Heiner sat speechless, and Father Bolzmann was also amazed, both teachers completely forgot that they were not alone. The hunting fever had gripped them. Just like earlier when they had found a code transmitter, and knew no rest until they knew the where what and who about it, so too now they became highly excited and Dr. Lehmann’s pencil slid across the paper as if that was all he knew. Heiner looked at him over his shoulder. What he saw was gibberish. Every 5 letters formed a distinct group. Already a whole page was full. But no words could be made out.

This is an excerpt from a children’s crime thriller “Secret Transmitter on 28.85 MHz.” It is by Karl Heinz Muller, and was published by Gottinger Verlag in the 1950s, and had a real background. After the Second World War, the spies in the forthcoming Cold War experienced a renewed high point. In the Federal Criminal Prosecutors Bureau in Wiesbaden, in the Exhibit Archive, there reposes a special collection. Tape recordings of encrypted messages from the GDR Secret Service and its collaborators in foreign lands far and near. These transmissions took place on the Short Wave, and were encrypted. They usually consisted of groups of 4 or 5 numbers (seldom letters) which were read by a woman, in a monotone voice, and were soon christened by listeners “Number Stations”. The transmission mode was AM, which could be received with readily available radio equipment in the shortwave frequency range. Therefore, the agent required now special radio receiver to receive the messages from his control station with there secret contents. This minimise the risk of discovery. The decryption of the 5 number groups, used a system of codes consisting of paper pads, which after use would be destroyed. Inspire of all precautions more and more foreign agents were netted by the Federal Authorities, trapped by the devices which, having been used once, were used again. In the archives which store court exhibits, belonging to those authorities in Bonn and Munich which are responsible for such things, are stored many and varied World receivers, which have in the past been seized in the one time West Germany having been used by Foreign Agents who had been caught there whilst working for foreign Secret Services. In these stores are to be found famous and once very popular sets such as Globetrotter of the firm Nordmende, and the Satellite from the Grundig Company.

But such encrypted transmissions went also from West to East. The C.I.A., during the Cold War, regularly sent out from West Germany along so called “Blind Radio Lines” columns of numbers to the East. Were the identification tune “Wer soll das bezahlen?” (who should pay) to be played, this meant that the transmission was a genuine transmission. On the other hand, if “Kornblumen Blau” (Cornflower Blue) were to ring out, then would follow a series of random numbers which contain no message, and which only served as a deception for the opposing Security Services, and also served as a frequency marker.

In a real case a Western Female Agent, based in G.D.R. on receipt of a coded message was suppost to receive a valve receiver of the make “Ilmenau”. Every first and third Sunday of the month, at 12 midday on a predetermined frequency in the lower Short wave frequency, a message would be sent to this Agent, a accompanied by one of the two named identifying tunes. After being copied by the Agent, these numbers would be added to further number from a codebook. This produced new groups of numbers, from which eventually a message would emerge. After every transmission the Agent wrote a letter with an encrypted message, which she would then send on to a cover address in West Berlin.

Originally, the intention had been to equip the agent with a small transmitter able to send in the shortwave frequency range. The wireless communication should not be in the form of speech transmission, rather in Morse code. Although it would prove more difficult to train the Agent in Morse code, it was decided upon the indirect communication code of number transmission and letter post.

Agent transmitter SP 15

As well as voice encrypted messages Morse code (CW) was also used in order to maintain immediate radio communication between the field agent and his control. The devices, which were employed and developed for this, were technical masterpieces. As an example, take a small agent radio station for the communication of Morse signals in the short wave frequency range, between 3 and 7 MHz, used by the GDR agents for secret communication with their control in Berlin. The West German Federal Intelligence Service (BND) also used comparable technology for communicating with its agents in neighbouring foreign countries. The West German model is the type known as the SP15, whose components are readily available on the swaps market, and are sought after by collectors. Some known manufacturers of these radios were such sources as PFITZNER and WANDEL and GOLTERMANN. For transportation, this extremely robust equipment is packed in an elegant leather attaché case, which hinges on one of its narrow sides and can be folded flat into its length. After this, one has the complete radio station spread out before one. On the left hand side, the plug in components of the transmitter, and on the right, the likewise plug in components of the receiver. Transmission is with a low power output on various fixed frequencies in the short wave band, and is by means of Morse code, as it was by the agents of the GDR.

Already during the Second World War, Morse code was becoming more and more important as a means of communicating between the HQs of both side, and their corresponding agents in the field. Also, special transmitting sets were developed which were of low power requirements and small in size. Both the famous “Red Orchestra” spy ring, and the French Resistance used Morse code for communications.

Stirred, not shaken!

Now one would think, that with the end of the Cold War between the East and West Blocks, that numbers stations would become just a theme for historians.

In the event the one-time East German transmitters have been silenced, just as the authorities, which were responsible for them, have been dissolved. One of these stations could, incidentally, be heard in the background of Radio Berlin International,(The official foreign broadcast station of the GDR) By virtue of this, technical shortcomings became apparent. A well-known Czech transmitter with the call sign of OLX ceased transmitting after a catastrophic flood, and has not, as at this time, reactivated. Presumably, the opportunity was taken to get rid of an installation which was no longer required. Thus, apart from a few planned or unplanned “decommissioning”, one still meets on the short waves a number of frequencies on which columns of numbers in English, German, Spanish, Chinese or East European languages being transmitted. And these transmissions can be monitored on every shortwave receiver.

The question is, why, in this age of satellite communications and in the interests of high tech agents, is there still in use such an antiquated form of communication as shortwave. This is easily answered. There is no more inconspicuous receiving apparatus than a small transistor radio with a shortwave band. Such a set, with batteries, is completely independent of the local infrastructure, and can be taken everywhere without arousing the suspicion of the authorities. Plus, between the transmitter and receiver is no third party that can intercept a message and track it to its destination. With communication on the satellite or Internet, one can never be sure that an outside party cannot follow a message being passed. In the case of an Internet communication, one can always locate the sender and the senders address, in the case of an email. If satellite comms are employed, the receiver of a message can be tracked and located by technical means. On top of this, it is certain that monitoring organisations routinely monitor worldwide email links and similar traffic relayed over communications satellites for secret messages. Leaders in this field may be the National Security Agency (NSA) of the USA, which, with the most modern technology is always on the hunt for information. Also in Europe, down in Bavaria in Bad Aibling, are based monitoring stations. In the face of these activities, the reception of columns of numbers with a portable shortwave radio receiver seems to be the most secure form passing encrypted messages. The receiver of a message transmitted via shortwave does not run the risk of being located by opposing SIGINT or Radio Location teams. And the short wave receiver still functions, when no other form of electronic communication is at the disposal of the user.

Numbers transmitters

It is more and more astounding how often, when scanning the short wave bands that one encounters number transmitters. The secret services of the world are openly passing instructions to their agents in place by means of short wave. Although it may be assumed that many of the supposedly active frequencies are used only for test purposes and contain principally cipher groups with messages of no real content (“dummies”). The equipment should function when needed. Transmission is done under handicap, which concern the message format, transmission frequency and transmission time. A few stations can be found daily on the same frequency at the same time. Others are active only once a week, or even less seldom and then, however, often on more frequencies simultaneously. Next to voice messages, the Morse code is still used. Incidentally, it is no secret that quite a lot of members of the Telecommunications Services Branch are also active Radio Amateurs. However, it should not be assumed that a mixture of both activities could be assumed. Because, quite the opposite, as at the start a numbers transmitter is up to his tricks in the middle of the amateur band, most numbers transmitters stay away from those frequencies allocated to Radio Amateurs. Anyway, there are always exceptions to the rule, very much to the annoyance of radio amateurs who are disturbed by this.

Although numbers transmitters appear now and then in the middle of broadcast or amateur bands, their transmissions are probably not meant for a general audience. Presumably, these transmissions do not serve as a topic of conversation amongst interested radio listeners, although one cannot be certain, as nothing concrete is known about these stations. A god theme then, around which to develop conspiracy theories. In order to distinguish between the many number stations, an ingenious system has been developed by specialist listeners. There are different stations with voice messages and stations with Morse code messages or other modes of communication. Numbers stations are classified according to their respective languages, even if the same station is active in several languages. Only by so doing, can a unitary classification system be adhered to. Four main language groups are used, although obviously further sub-divisions are possible:- English; German; Slavic (East European ) all other languages (ie Spanish, Chinese Arabic).

One of the most famous short wave listeners, who dealt extensively with numbers stations, was Havana Moon. Under this pseudonym, Havana wrote in the USA America Short Wave listeners press, and published his own newsletter that dealt exclusively with numbers stations. Even one of his published brochures dealt with this theme, which, up until the present day, fascinates a great many listeners around the globe. Havana Moon obviously enjoyed developing newer and newer theories about the background of numbers stations, and celebrating his own highly secret identity. Over the years, a few numbers station locations have been identified, amongst them the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, a base in Florida, USA.(since destroyed by a hurricane) and other locations in the USA. A few more are in Central America and the Near East, particularly Israel. Thus, although over the years, certain interesting facts about the highly secret numbers stations have emerged, the puzzle will probably never be fully solved. Still, that is not to be regretted, because in this way, the Short Wave remains an adventure, be it real or imagined. With a world band receiver, one can take part daily, and participate in developing the theories about these signals.

0987654321 END OF MESSAGE.


Numbers stations on the short wave

For beginners, the following list of stations has been compiled, which consists of the more commonly heard stations. It should be noted that it contains only a small part of the active stations. Transmission times and frequencies are usually constant, but can vary now and again. Similarly, frequencies used earlier can be reactivated. Only voice stations are listed here. Transmission times are given in minutes past the full hour. Depending upon propagation conditions, some of the frequencies given may only be heard at certain times of the day.

[Treat these freqs as Historical interest only]
GERMAN AM H;00 3041.10; 4.210; 4.270; 4.370; 4.580 4.680; (all kHz).
YL Transmission
starts with three ascending tones and ACHTUNG ACHTUNG.
GERMAN AM H;00 4.530; 5.184; 5.810; 5.240(all kHz)
All can vary plus or minus 5khz
YL. TX Starts with “ACHTUNG”
ENGLISH SSB/USB H;00 6.959; 92521; 10.426; 11.545; 12.603
14.448; 16.084. All kHz.
YL Tx starts with tune “Lincolnshire Poacher”
ENGLISH SSB/USB H;00 18.864; 19.984; 20.474; 21.866;
22.108; 23.461; 24.644 all kHz.
YL Tx starts with tune “Cherry Ripe”
ENGLISH AM/USB H;00 4.635; 5.812; 9.090; 9.216; 7..430;
10.423; 13.906 all kHz. YL. TX starts after 1khz tone is sent 10 times
ENGLISH AM H;00 5.750; 6.780; 9.225; 10.170; 10.880
11.440; 13.835 all kHz. OM.
ENGLISH AM H;00/H;30 5.835; 6.959; all kHz OM
ENGLISH AM H;00/H;15 2.270; 2.844; 3.270; 3,485; 4.165
    H;30/H;45 4.360; 4.780; 5.230; 5,629; 6.745 7.445; 8.127; 9.270; 10.352; 12.950 14.866; 16. 048; 20.740 all kHz.
YL TX starts with 3 LETTERS in NATO phonetics.
ENGLISH AM H;00/H;30 4.130; 5.530; 11.000; 14.000 17.503; 18.000 all kHz.
OM/YL Tx starts 3 letters.
ENGLISH AM H;00/H;20 5.420; 10.133 all kHz.
SPANISH AM H;00 4.028; 8.532; 9.330; 10.445 12.215 all kHz.
YL TX starts with “ATTENCION”
ARABIC AM H;00 6.648; 11.290; all kHz. YL
Starts with music.
CHINESE AM H;00/H; 30 8.300; 11;430; 15;388 all kHz. YL Tx starts with music.

This article has been included with permission of the original user site.

[Thanks to HJH/German Desk for translation and obtaining permissions to print; and to NVA Group for allowing such].

Morse stations | Voice stations | Oddities | Polytones
Beginners corner | German branch | Numbers predictions
Confirmed end user of number transmissions
Verwaltung Aufklärung | E10 schedule research
HJH's watch | Secret service on the short wave | Killing of Colonel Callan
News Items | Web sites | Contribution deadlines
Index | E2K NL Home