Alster-Bottlepost-4-bar

A fourth encrypted bottle post has been found in the river Alster in Hamburg. Still nobody seems to have a clue what these strange messages mean.

The Alster bottle post mystery is one of the strangest crypto mysteries I have ever covered on this blog. Here’s what has happened so far:

  • In October 2016, the first encrypted bottle post was found in the Isebekkanal, a sidearm of the river Alster in Hamburg, Germany (thanks to Dominique Eggerstedt for the hint).
  • On January 24, 2017, a similar message was discovered on the South-East bank of the Außenalster, near the Restaurant Kajüte (thanks to Alex Vladi for the hint).
  • In  late April, Tuncel Biyikli informed me about another bottle post. He found it on the eastern bank of the Außenalster.

Earlier this week Hans von Jagow sent me a picture of another bottle post of the same kind. He found it drifting on the water while he was rowing near the Krugkoppelbrücke, which is close to the finding place of bottle 3.

This means that we now have four encrypted Alster bottle posts. The finding places can be seen on the following map:

Alster-map-4

Bottle post 4

Here’s the picture Hans von Jagow provided me:

Alster-Bottlepost-4

Here’s the text part (for an even  higher resolution check here):

Alster-Bottlepost-4-Middle

Like the other three Alster bottle post messages this one consists of letter sequences, the purpose of which is unclear. A number of German words can be spotted, e.g., UBOOTE and DIEGRÖßTEN. I don’t know why anybody would put such a message into a bottle and throw it into a river.

 

Bottle post 1

Here’s a picture (taken by Dominique Eggerstedt) of the first bottle post found:

Isebek-Cryptogram-1

This is the message contained in the bottle:

Isebek-Cryptogram-3

Many words can be read, while other parts of the text seem to have no meaning. The purpose of this note is completely unclear to date.

 

Bottle post 2

The second bottle post looks like this (source: Facebook):

Alster-Bottlepost-Cryptogram

Again, I don’t know what the purpose of this message is.

 

Bottle post 3

Here’s the third message (picture taken by Tuncel Biyikli):

Alster-Bottlepost-Cryptogram-3b

Alster-Bottlepost-Cryptogram-3

Again, the message contains a number of German cleartext words, e.g., MÄDCHEN, STURMBEFEHL, and HÖCHSTGEFAHR. I don’t know what this means.

 

What is it all about?

I still have absolutley no idea what all these messages are about. Here are a few hypotheses:

  • Alternate Reality Game (ARG): ARGs usually start with messages (e.g. letters) being sent to selected people. These messages usually contain a call to action (e.g., “we need your help to save the world, call 123-456-7890”). While it seems well possible that the organizers of an ARG use bottle posts to start their game, none of the messages found so far contains a call to action.
  • Geocaching: Many crypto puzzles created today have a relationship to Geocaching. Is this the case here, too? So far, I can’t see any relationship between theses messages and Geocaching.
  • Performance art: A few years ago some 20 encrypted notes were found at a university in London, Canada. In 2014 it became know that these messages all were created by a local artist. So, the crypto mystery turned out to be a performance art project.
  • Hoax: Of course, somebody might have created theses messages just to create a mystery – and to make himself laugh about the people trying to solve it.

Can a reader say more about the Alster bottle post messages? Any hint is welcome.

Further reading: Kaliningrad’s second mystery: Who can break this encrypted bottle post?

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Kommentare (15)

  1. #1 Dampier
    27. September 2017

    Here are a few hypotheses:

    I’ll stick to this one: mental disorder

    Some words from the recent Message:
    PSYCHATNER
    VERGEWALTIGUNG
    DAS GRÖßTE VERBRECHEN
    INNEN VERLETZT (VERLETZUNG?)

    (Psychiatrist
    Rape
    The biggest crime
    inner injuries)

    I’v been working with mentally ill people (years ago) and this style of writing looks familiar to me.

    Maybe a sort of auditory hallucination, someone who “hears voices” inside her/his head, and communicates with those imaginary people/beings by bottle post …

  2. #2 Klaus Schmeh
    27. September 2017

    @Dampier:
    >I’ll stick to this one: mental disorder
    Interesting explanation. Do you think the Voynich Manuscript could have been made by a mentally disordered person, too?

  3. #3 Michaela Ellguth
    Berlin
    27. September 2017

    Die Zigarette- oder Zigarillo-Packung “Handelsgold” beinhaltete eine Mindermenge (kleine Packungen mit meist 3 Zigaretten/Zigarillos) und wurde ab 2016 verkauft (Warnaufdruck). Die Flaschen sind ganz normale Schnapsflaschen (Flachmänner), wie es sie in jedem Kiosk gibt. Es sind weitaus mehr Worte lesbar und oft sind Abkürzungen genutzt, die man allgemein nutzt (DZ, Ich, DZ) = Doppelzimmer, Ich, Doppelzimmer. Oder auch Str. für Straße.
    “MKHSZ” ist ein ungarischer, staatlicher Medienriese, kann aber Zufall sein.
    Auf dem Bild mit dem Lochausschnitt ist z.B. zu entziffern “Körperertüchtigte Mädchen” = Sportlich.

    Ich persönlich tippe darauf, das eine Person die Flasche irgendwo austrinkt, dann einen beschriebenen Zettel reinsteckt und ins Wasser wirft.

  4. #4 Dampier
    27. September 2017

    @Klaus

    Do you think the Voynich Manuscript could have been made by a mentally disordered person, too?

    Yes indeed. I commented this on an article of you at Telepolis in 2008:

    (Translated with DeepL & edited)

    For example, one could assume a psychologically ill person who is very educated and gifted, and who in manic delusion writes down and illustrates some sort of visions. The lyrics are nonsense, but as far as word lengths and character distribution are concerned, he followed the conventions of the Western European language culture, which he is used to (The ‘manic flow’ could also explain why there aren’t any corrections – because details were not important.)

    In the retirement home where I did my community service (geriatric psychiatry), there was e. g. a gentleman over 80, who translated Old French Books completely, but in a sort of shorthand. No one could read it but him. The results were quite a few thick manuscripts, which made a homogeneous impression in themselves, but practically no one understood except the author. This is only an example of what kind of strange works can be created in delusion.

    I find a stunning resemblance of the voynich illustrations to the paintings of Hildegard von Bingen’s visions (1098–1179), who may have suffered from a kind of migraine which goes together with hallucinations in radial symmetry (theory by Oliver Sacks and others).

    http://www.abtei-st-hildegard.de/wp2012/wp-content/gallery/scivias/bildschirmfoto-2011-12-09-um-17-48-16.png

  5. #5 Klaus Schmeh
    27. September 2017

    @Dampier:
    Thanks for the hint. I covered this hypothesis in my book “Nicht zu knacken”. In my view this explanation makes sense (which doesn’t mean that it is the only one that is acceptable). However, it is hard to explain how a mentally ill person had access to parchment, which was extremely expensive.

  6. #6 Dampier
    27. September 2017

    it is hard to explain how a mentally ill person had access to parchment

    Maybe he was a monk, a scribe who has been copying manuscripts all his life, and when he got mad, they would let him write to keep him busy. Maybe his friars even thought that his visons came from god …

  7. #7 Marc
    27. September 2017

    @Dampier:
    Das ist eine sehr einleuchtende Überlegung. In der Nähe gibt es einige Psychiatrische Kliniken. Könnte das Ganze evtl. auch etwas mit Bewältigungstherapien zu tun haben ?

  8. #9 Dampier
    28. September 2017

    @Marc, ich habe mal an die Alsterdorfer Anstalten geschrieben, vielleicht kann da jemand weiterhelfen …

  9. #10 Thomas
    28. September 2017

    Once more Polish: “ztatus” or “ztatuz” (misspelled, meaning: “with dad”) and the name “Zakrzewski”

  10. #11 Katharina hadlich
    Deutschland
    28. September 2017

    Körperlicheertüchtigung kann auch was anderes bedeuten. Hinzu kommt das dort U-Boot Daten sind.
    Uhrzeiten und andere Daten. Soweit ich das lese, geht es um ein bosnisches Mädchen. Um die 17 oder damals 17.
    Also haben wir eine Psychatrie, ein U-Boot Bunker und ein Museum.
    Die Zigaretten? Vielleicht raucht diese Person diese Marke und da das eher selten ist.!

    • #12 Michaela Ellguth
      Berlin
      28. September 2017

      @ Katharina hadlich, die Zigaretten geben uns zuerst einmal Auskunft darüber, wann die Nachricht entstanden sein muss, also ab 2016.
      Wenn es sich um U-Boot-Daten handelt, müsste man die Koordinaten, U-Boot-Bezeichnungen bzw. die U-Boot-Kennung ermitteln können. Das Maritim-Museum, das sich mit U-Booten beschäftigt, befindet sich in Peenemünde. In Hamburg legen ja ständig Containerschiffe an, die aus der ganzen Welt kommen und auch das wäre eine Möglichkeit.

  11. #13 voynichbombe
    Berlin
    28. September 2017

    In HH gibt es Elbe II & Fink II, Uboot-Bunker aus WK II. U-434, das Museum. Und ich habe Mal ein modernes die Elbe rauf fahren gesehen, in Richtung Docks. Aber darüber gibt es nicht sehr viel zu lesen.

  12. #14 Dampier
    28. September 2017

    @Klaus

    I covered this hypothesis in my book “Nicht zu knacken”.

    Oh, leider vergriffen. Wird es eine Neuauflage geben?

  13. #15 Jane Smith
    29. September 2017

    I still think it has to do with computer gaming.

    SOS 201 -> soundcloud
    218,9 MHz -> PC tuning
    TNT -> game company (tntspiele.de)
    ECKX -> League of Legends game
    MK80 -> gaming keyboard
    KYMH6B -> aden game coordinates
    EƎE -> a Youtuber
    Zakrzewski -> game developer (http://www.gamestar.de/spiele/entwickler/paul-zakrzewski/13606.html)
    DH games -> also a gaming company

    Still can’t even begin to guess why someone put this into a bottle.