In 1913, an unknown person sent an encoded postcard to a man living in the then German town of Nieder-Jeutz. It is not possible to decipher this card unambiguously, but a few guesses can be made.

Over the last five years, I have introduced over 100 encrypted postcards on this blog. My readers have deciphered almost all of them. Among the very few exceptions are two cards a woman in Kent, UK, received in 1911.

Owen-Postcard-1911-12-02

Owen-Postcard-1911-11-30

I blogged about these two postcards in 2014. The reason why no reader posted a solution is easy to see: the two messages are not encrypted in the usual sense; instead they are written in an abbreviation code, i.e., every letter of the message is the starting letter of a word. It is not possible to decrypt a message of this kind unambiguously.

An abbreviation code is rarely encountered on a postcard – usually, the receiver of a message wants an unambiguous statement. The two postcards shown above are among the few I knew about until recently. Yesterday my friend Tobias Schrödel, who is a famous comedy hacker and editorial member of the German TV magazine Stern TV, provided me another postcard with an abbreviated message. Here’s the picture side of it:

Postcard-Klaas-pic

And here’s the text side:

Postcard-Klaas-tex

The recipient of the card was a Julius Klaas living in Nieder-Jeutz (Yutz), which is today located in Eastern France. In 1913, when the card was written, Nieder-Jeutz belonged to Germany. The sender is not known; probably it was Julius’ Klaas lover. If we look at the message, …

Postcard-Klaas-ciphertext

… we see that we almost certainly deal with an abbreviated German text. It is, of course, not possible to find a unique solution of this cryptogram, but we can make a few guesses. For instance, the first line might read: “Guten Morgen, mein Lieber! Viele herzliche Grüße von …”.

Can a reader find out more?


Further reading: An undecipherable postcard?

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Kommentare (10)

  1. #1 Thomas
    22. November 2018

    The last line: “…wünscht Dir von ganzem Herzen, Deine M.-S.”

  2. #2 Hias
    22. November 2018

    Die schräg aufgeklebte Briefmarke passt gut zum Blogeintrag vom 17. 9. 2013.

  3. #3 Gerry and Andrea
    22. November 2018

    The sender’s town on the stamp could be Diedenhofen, now Thionville, only 4 kilometers away from Niederjeutz / Yutz. Julius Klaas was the owner of the wire company.

  4. #4 Gerry and Andrea
    22. November 2018

    On familysesrch.org there is a Julius Klaas, born 29.2.1888. The card was sent on 27.2.1913, so if we assume we have the correct Julius Klaas, it may be a birthday card. G-T could be Geburtstag (birthday) and G-W Geburtstagswünsche (birthday wishes).
    The line before the last could be “Und ganz schöne und besondere Dinge wünscht” … “Deine Marie-Sophie”.

  5. #5 Thomas
    22. November 2018

    Excellent find!
    So the beginning might be:” Guten Morgen, mein Lieber. Viele herzliche Grüße und Küsse und tausend (?) Geburtstagswünsche.”

  6. #6 Thomas
    23. November 2018

    The Julius Klaas you’ve found was a composer who was born in Bochum and passed away in Frankfurt,, https://music4viola.info/komponist-info/Klaas J.?l=en. I wonder whether he ran a wire factory in Alsace.

  7. #7 Tobias Schrödel
    München
    23. November 2018

    Wow, great finding, really! That is a leapyear birthday. Either the 25th or the 5 1/4th is celebrated 😉
    As the ! probably separates sentences. I assume “… ! Z. ! …” stands for “Zusammen!” (“Together!”) so maybe before, (s)he ist talking about a meeting or reunion.

  8. #8 Thomas
    23. November 2018

    @Tobias Schrödel
    Whas it a special code only J.K. and his lover knew-
    or was it a code provided by a book’s author? Do you have a copy or photocopies of the booklet “Amor als geheimer Bote. Geheimsprache für Liebende zu Ansichts-Postkarten.” (1904)?

  9. #9 Tobias Schrödel
    München
    23. November 2018

    @Thomas: I have no idea, what type of code they used. I doubt it is a codebook or something. It really looks like abbreviations only … and so works with the readers imagination.
    The book “Amor als geheimer Bote” is cited in various other books (even Friedrich L. Bauer). How ever, I have never seen it in real or a copy of it. Some books published around the same time have similarities. Maybe “Sicherster Schutz des Briefgeheimnisses” 1901 by Emil Katz is a good point to look at. I will check that out later.

  10. #10 Thomas Binder
    Berlin
    27. November 2018

    Ich denke, wir haben hier keinen Code vor uns, sondern eine nette Spielerei unter Verliebten. Ein Code, der jedes Wort nur durch den Anfangsbuchstaben ersetzt, ist ja nicht praktikabel. Der Absender stellt dem Empfänger einfach die Aufgabe, sich den Text zu erschließen, quasi ein Rätsel. Da sich beide sicher sehr nahe standen und der Anlass (Geburtstagsgruß) den Inhalt weitgehend vorzeichnet, wird es mehr oder weniger gut gelungen sein, den Text zu “erraten”.