Siegfried Schwabl (born 1917) from the Salzburg area, Austria, wrote an encrypted diary. The solution is known, but has not been published. Can a reader decipher the diary excerpt that is available online?

Encrypted diaries are a frequent topic on this blog. Quite a few of them are known to exist. My encrypted book list contains over 25 diaries that are enciphered, and I’m sure that there are many more. Among others, I have published posts about Donald Hill’s steganographic diary, Olga Romanova’s journal, the Isdal woman’s diary and a few more. In addition, I wrote an article about encrypted diaries (especially about the one of Antonio Marzi) for Spiegel Online.

 

Encrypted diaries

Some of the diaries on my encrypted book list are written completely in cipher (like the one of Noah John Rondeau), while others only contain a few encrypted passages (like the journals of Lady Gwendolen and Czech poet Karel Hynek Mácha).

Usually, the ciphers used by diarists are quite simple, as it is pretty annoying to apply a complicated encryption system on a longer text. For this reason, as good as all encrypted diary entries I am aware of are broken.

 

The diary of Siegfried Schwabl

A year ago, the website of the Austrian broadcasting station ORF published an article about another encrypted diary. This one was written by Siegfried Schwabl from Pinzgau, an area near the Austrian city of Salzburg (known as the birthplace of Mozart). The Untersberg code, another crypto mystery I have covered on this blog, comes from the Salzburg area, too.

Siegfried Schwabl was born in 1917 (the year of his death is not mentioned). According to the ORF article, Schwabl was the illegitimite son of a local woman and a Russian soldier. When his mother’s husband came back from the war, he immediately left his wife because of the illegitimate child. A few years later, Schwabl’s mother died. From there on, he was raised by the owner of a saw mill. Apparently, Schwabl’s youth was far from being a happy one. From his childhood days on he had to work as a servant in his step-father’s sawmill. In the Second World War, he was drafted as a soldier. After the war, he married and had a family.

 

Can a reader decipher this excerpt?

The ORF article doesn’t say when Schwabl started to write an encrypted diary and how long he wrote it. As it seems, the diary covers at least his servant and soldier days.

Apparently, Schwabl’s daughter Klara Gassner knows the cipher her father used. She has decrypted the diary, but, as far as I can see, she has not published the content or the cipher Schwabl applied. Most likely, the cipher is a letter substitution (MASC), as other encryption systems are too complicated for writing a diary.

The ORF article shows a picture of a diary page:

Schwabl-Diary-1

On the website of a Pinzgau museum, I found another picture that shows a diary scan, but it’s not a very good one:

Schwabl-Diary-2

These two excerpts are all I know about this diary. Can reader decipher a few lines from these passages?


Further reading: Who can solve this encrypted message found in a dictionary?

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Kommentare (3)

  1. #1 Armin
    17. November 2018

    The author indeed uses a substitution, but has added some complications: he uses symbols for diphthongs and ch,ck,sch), and he writes from right to left (unless the image is mirrored).

    For the right side of the first image I get this:

    …DEN
    …EN SIE SICH
    …WO SIE NIEMAND ERWARTET
    …DABEI SICH UND SEIN ???
    …EIN ARBEITER DER MIT DER DIRN
    …DER TÜRE WARD ABER WELCHER ANBLICK
    …ZEITIG DIE TÜR AUF UND SCHALTETE DAS LICHT
    …JA NIEMAND AUFZUWECKEN SCHNELL DIE STIEGE
    …HR HING UM NACHZUSEHEN WIE SPÄT ES
    …ZU MIR ICH SOLL IN DIE STUBE GEHN
    …BLIEBEN IST WEIL SIE DAS AUFZIEHEN
    …ANDUHR SEHEN WOLLTE WURDE SIE
    …NDEN BAUERNGEHÖFTEN ALS SIE
    …ER FREUDE ALLERHAND SAGEN UND
    …AT ES AUCH GERN SIE TAT MIR SCHÖN
    …MUSST MIR EIN WENIG G…
    …NSEN DAUERT…

  2. #2 Thomas
    17. November 2018

    @Armin
    Glückwunsch!
    Das Bild ist übrigens nicht gespiegelt, Schwabl hat seine verschlüsselten Texte tatsächlich von rechts nach links geschrieben, wie man hier am Klartextdatum eines weiteren Tagebuchausrisses sehen kann: https://www.pressreader.com/austria/salzburger-nachrichten/20170428/282445643950643
    Und hier noch der Klartext einer anderen Tagebuchstelle (nebst Foto von ihm und seiner Braut): https://www.pressreader.com/austria/salzburger-nachrichten/20170428/282205125782067 (Den hier wiedergegebenen Klartext vom 21. April 1917 kann ich im obigen Ausriss vom selben Tag allerdings nicht wiederfinden, dieser Tag scheint also mehr als eine Seite im Tagebuch einzunehmen.)

  3. #3 Klaus Schmeh
    17. November 2018

    @Armin: Congratulations and thank you very much!
    @Thomas: Thanks for the additional information.