Here’s an encrypted postcard from the town of Mannswörth, Austria. Can you decipher it?

This year I received my most beautiful Christmas present already a few days before the holidays. Tobias Schrödel, who is certainly known to most readers from his regular appearances on Stern TV, from his marvelous comedy hacking talks, from his crypto book website or simply because he is mentioned on this blog quite often, provided me scans of a number of encrypted postcards. I published several blog posts about these over the last days. Today, on Christmas Eve, I am going to introduce the last one from this set.

This time, the receiver of the card is an unmarried woman (this is no surprise, as most encrypted postcards were sent to unmarried women) named Anna Weinmeister, living in Mannswörth, Austria. Mannswörth is today a borough of Schwechat near Vienna. Schwechat is today the place where the airport of Vienna is located.

If I am not wrong, the stamp on the card shows the date 17.4.03, which means that the card was sent in 1903.

The picture side …

… not only shows a nice crest (can a reader identify it?), but also an encrypted text. Considering that the card was sent to an unmarried woman, it would be a fair bet that the sender was her lover. The plaintext is probably German.

The cipher used by the sender is most likely a letter substitution (MASC). The spaces between the words have been preserved, which makes breaking the cryptogram easier. It might be a good start to guess the following word, which has the pattern 123342546:

The software CrypTool 2 (which is available in the new version 2.1, by the way), renders only one German word with this pattern: MITTEILEN (to inform). Is this decipherment correct? Can you break the encryption?

In any case, I wish all my readers a Merry Christmas!


Further reading: Who can solve this encrypted postcard from Christmas 1906?

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Kommentare (7)

  1. #1 Marc
    24. Dezember 2018

    Frohe Weihnachten an alle !

  2. #2 Peter Lichtenberger
    Krank im Bett
    24. Dezember 2018

    Schreibe bald. (verkehrt/on top)

    Mir schreibe aber nur an diese gennante Adresse. (links/left-hand side)

    Meine liebste Nina. Wenn es morgen Freitag den 17. nicht regnet, so erwarte ich dich um halb vier Uhr am Bankerl. Komme du aber ganz bestimmt.
    Ich muss dir etwas wichtiges mitteilen. Werde dich mit Sehnsucht erwarten. Komme also ganz bestimmt. Solte es regnen, so Samstag um
    diese Zeit. Schreibe mir auch bald. Meine Adressse ist Karl Baumeister, Handelsakademiker, Wien I. Bezirk Handelsakademie.

    Aber nur Briefe. Karten erhalte ich nicht. Gib mir auch bekannt wohin ich Dir ungeniert schreiben kann
    Dein Karl

  3. #3 Gerry and Andrea
    24. Dezember 2018

    The crest is the Austrian Double Eagle, like the one at https://austria-forum.org/af/Wissenssammlungen/Symbole/Doppeladler

  4. #4 Thomas
    25. Dezember 2018

    Peter: Congratulations
    and Merry Christmas to you all!

  5. #5 Richard SantaColoma
    http://proto57.wordpress.com/
    25. Dezember 2018

    Congratulations, Peter!

  6. #6 Klaus Schmeh
    25. Dezember 2018

    Gert Brantner via Facebook:
    What interests me at the moment is more connected to the psychological side of the custom of “sending encrypted postcards to (un)married women”. Mail was a slightly different service back then, e.g. delivery would take place twice a day (at least in the mentioned area). Letters were more expensive than postcards, and also would attract more attention. Postcards would not have been delivered to some places, as also mentioned in the message from above.
    Of course, the most important purpose of encrypting the message on an openly viewable postcard would have been to conceal its meaning from unsolicited eying along the way. But in the scenario, that the message was to be hidden from let’s say, a jealous husband or strict parents of the recipient, the existence of an encrypted message alone would raise a lot of questions, should the item have been discovered by said other parties. A lot of explaining to do.. just a thought. Privacy seems to always have been an issue 🙂

  7. #7 Klaus Schmeh
    25. Dezember 2018

    @Peter: Thank you very much! I wish you speedy recovery!