“I suppose they figured if I could understand economic theory, I could crack code,” says Arthur Maddocks, who was a top student at Oxford University when he was recruited by British intelligence. Like Betty Webb, Maddocks was posted to Bletchley Park. He was put to work cracking the Lorenz code, the encrypted messaging system used only by Hitler and his most senior generals. Lorenz had two layers of encryption and millions of possibilities to unravel. But by the time the war was drawing to a close, Maddocks and his colleagues—assisted by Colossus, the world’s first computer—were reading communications between Germany’s leaders so far in advance that V-E Day—May 8, 1945, the day Germany surrendered—was something of an anticlimax, Maddocks says. “We already knew it was over.”
Hear more voices from World War II.