Schmehs Beispiele belegen auch, dass die Verfasser verschlüsselter Karten meist männlich  waren. Den Grund hierfür vermutet der Krypto-Experte unter anderem in der Tatsache, dass ledige junge Frauen wie Theresia Metzler typischerweise bei ihren Eltern wohnten, die ebenso über ihre Korrespondenz wie über ihren guten Ruf wachten. Josef Fröwis tingelte derweil durch Österreich und verschickte Motivkarten mit „Grüßen von der Arlbergbahn“, stets verziert mit seiner geheimen Notenschrift.


Source: Bregenzerwald Archiv

„WIE ICH DICH LIEBE, SO INNIG, SO HEISS, SO TREU UND WAHR ALS MEIN LEBEN SAMMT DER GANZEN WELT!!! SO SEHR!!! SO SEHR!!!“, schwärmt er. Und fleht: „O SÜSSE RESI, MEINE UNENDLICH GELIEBTE BRAUT!!!! ERHÖRE MICH DOCH!!!!! BITTE!!!! BITTE!!!!! BITTE!!!!!!!“. Antworten von Resi sind nicht erhalten geblieben. Vermutlich war keusches Schweigen die klügste Strategie, um Josefs versteckte Botschaften weiterhin als harmlose Kritzeleien zu tarnen. Vielleicht machte die junge Frau ihrem Herzen aber auch in den wenigen Momenten trauter Zweisamkeit Luft, die die Verliebten miteinander teilten („KOMME VIELLEICHT HEUTE BIS NEUN UHR WIEDER VOR DAS KÜCHENFENSTER“.)

Eine der wenigen Schmeh bekannten verschlüsselten Korrespondenzen zweier Liebender lässt erahnen, wie Resis Antwort vielleicht ausgesehen hätte. Sie stammt von 1904 und besteht aus zwei Postkarten. Die erste enthält die mit Zahlen und Strichen verschlüsselte Botschaft eines August Dedering aus Neunkirchen an seine Liebste Maria Scheck in Mönchengladbach. Maria, gar nicht schüchtern, antwortet mit den zärtlichen, ebenfalls codierten Worten: „DU BIST MEIN TREUER SÜSSER HERZENSAUGUST MEIN GANZES EINZIGES GLÜCK AUF DIESER WELT.“


Source: Manfred Hahn

Küsse ohne ohne Zahl

Nicht alle 44 Postkartentexte zeugen von Glück und von Harmonie: Hier und da weist die Notenschrift Missklänge auf. „ACH MEINE INNIG GELIEBTE O LASSET EUCH NICHT BETHÖREN VON FREMDEN DIE NACH MÄDCHEN HERZEN TRACHTEN UN IHRE BEGIERDEN ZU BEFRIEDIGEN UND WIEDER WEITER ZIEHEN UM ES WIEDER SO ZU MACHEN!“, schreibt Fröwis, eifersüchtig auf mögliche Nebenbuhler. Erotische Begierde drückt der Organist mal mehr, mal weniger subtil aus. So schickt er Resi beispielsweise das Bild zweier Liebender auf einer Waldlichtung mit den Worten „DENKE WIR SEIEN SO BEISAMMEN UND ICH HERZE UND KÜSSE DICH OHNE OHNE ZAHL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! SCHAU WIE S´ AMÖRLE SCHIESST!“.


Source: Bregenzerwald Archiv

Wir wissen nicht, ob Theresia Metzler wirklich jeder einzelnen Postkarte entgegen fieberte oder ob sie Josefs  Notengebilde und seinen inflationären Gebrauch von Ausrufezeichen auch mal leid war. Ungeklärt bleibt auch, ob unser fiktiver Postbote das Geheimnis des jungen Paars erriet. Sicher ist, dass Josef Fröwis seine Resi letztlich zum Traualtar führte – und dass seine verschlüsselte Postkartensammlung heute zu den wohl umfangreichsten ihrer Art zählt.


Further reading: Who can solve this beautiful encrypted postcard?

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Kommentare (8)

  1. #1 Thomas
    10. Januar 2019

    Ein informativer und amüsanter Artikel! Die umfangreiche Postkartensammlung bietet Klaus hier: http://scienceblogs.de/klausis-krypto-kolumne/encrypted-postcards-written-by-josef-froewis-1866-1934/

  2. #2 Phil
    10. Januar 2019

    Endlich wieder ein deutschsprachiger Text in der Kryptokolumne, da lässt sich’s wieder flüssig lesen. Gerne mehr davon!

  3. #3 Colin Bierton
    Neuenkirchen
    10. Januar 2019

    This may help…

    In the 1900s couples flirted discreetly via Postcards: their secret writing making it possible. A musician in Austria encoded a message so well that, over 100 years later, it remains unreadable. Today the coded messages are an entertaining witness to the highs and lows of the relationships.
    Alois Mayer, a postman in the Bergenz region of Austria, shakes his head as he studies the postcards in his hands. Quite readable on one side is the address of the recipient, one Mrs Theresia Metzer. The other side of the postcard, on the other hand, is full of Musical Notes, Violin and Base keys, all in a multi coloured, intermixed, geometric pattern. The markings dance before the eyes of the post official, who looks quickly for any readable text. After a while he shrugs his shoulders, posts the letter into the Metzler’s post box and goes on his way.
    On the other side of the house door awaits Theresia with great anticipation for the news from her fiancée. As so often in the last couple of months, she grabs the colourful coloured postcard and hurries to her room. “Why does Josef never write anything legible to our Resi?” brawls father Metzer to his wife. Mrs Metzer just laughs, thinks about her own engagement time, about the inpatient young lover then and their small secrets that bridged the waiting time.

    Underwear for father Metzer

    Also the descendants of Josef Fröwis’ postcards have puzzled, for over 100 years, about the meaning of the 44 pieces of correspondence to Theresia Metzer. With the presumption, that the enthusiastic musician has committed his composition to paper, give a section of the correspondence to a music scientist. For they will make sense of the notes and symbols differently than anyone would have thought of. They would exchange the characters with letters, thus breaking the secret code of the wise Mr Fröwis.

    The Bregenzerwald archive in Egg, to where the postcards have been loaned, undertook in 2006, the meticulous decoding of some of the postcards, sent by Fröwes to his fiancée between 1892 and 1900. They tell of great feelings, but also of totally mundane day-to-day things. “I have to take father underwear and a scarf when mother returns home. I’ll come today until a half eight (19:30h)” writes Josef from Reuthe, a place in a neighbouring area called Bizau. As the post at that time was delivered three times a day, he could be sure, that his fiancée would get enough warning of his visit.
    Thanks, at that time, to the relative low cost of sending a postcard compared to a letter, they were the equal of someone sending an Instant Message today. They also included the ‘Emojis’ of their day; travellers sent motive pictured postcards instead of drearily written longhand letters and lovers sought out postcards with flower motives or pre-printed poems to send back. They invested their creativity in the encoding methods they used to shield their intimate messages from the inquisitive eyes of post men like Alois Mayer.

    Maria and her great love

    The encoding had to be extremely foolproof, without leaving the writer in any danger of their loved one being scared off, by having to spend hours decoding the message. Many of the postcards, posted by Klaus Schmeh (an expert for historical encoding techniques) in his Blog, document this balancing act; trivial exchanges of the letters of the alphabet for other characters come to the fore, leaving techniques like Morse Code or complex number encoding, far behind.
    Schmel’s examples show also that the composers of encrypted postcodes mostly were men. The reason for that, the crypto expert puts forward, is that single young women, like Theresa Metzler, typically lived with their parents, who watched over their correspondences as much as their good name. Josef Fröwis meanwhile travelled around Austria sending motive postcards with, for example, “Greetings from Arlbergbahn” printed on them, decorated with his secret ‘Note’ characters.

    Source: Bergenzerwald Archive

    “HOW I LOVE YOU, AS HEARTFELT, AS HOT, AS LOYAL AND TRUE AS MY LIFE TO THE WHOLE WORLD!! AS MUCH!! AS MUCH!!” he raves. And pleads “O SWEET RESI, MY NEVER-ENDING LOVING BRIDE!!!! HEAR ME BUT!!!!! PLEASE!!!! PLEASE!!!!! PLEASE!!!!!!! The answers from Resi have not survived. Clearly chaste silence was the cleverest strategy to hide Josef’s hidden messages as harmless scribbles. Maybe the young lady exchanged, in the slightest moments of being alone together, such sentiments in return as “COME TONIGHT AGAIN, MAYBE AT NINE O’CLOCK OUTSIDE THE KITCHEN WINDOW”?

    One of Schmeh’s lesser known coded postcards lets us guess how Resi’s replies may have looked. They come from 1904 and are comprised of two postcards. The first is composed of numbers and strokes and is the coded message of one August Dedering from Neuenkirchen, written to his loving Maria Scheck in Mönchengladback. Maria, not, at all shyly, answers with the tender, but encoded, words “You are the trusted sweet winner of my heart, my complete and only luck in this world.”

    Kisses without any Limits

    Not all of the 44 postcards show luck and harmony. Here and there the ‘Notes and Symbols’ show examples of disharmony. “AHH MY HEARTFELT LOVE, OH SUFFER YE NOT, TO BE MISLED BY UNKNOWN PEOPLE THAT CONSUME THE DESIRES OF THE HEARTS OF GIRLS IN THE NIGHT HELPING TO BRING THEM PEACE, THINGS THAT PULL AT THEM AGAIN AND AGAIN!” writes Fröwis, jealous of possible rivals. Erotic thoughts subtly pressured the organist, sometimes more, sometimes less. So, for example, he sent Resi a picture of two lovers in a clearing in a forest with the words “THINK ABOUT US BEING SO TOGETHER AND I LOVEING AND KISSING YOU WITHOUT ANY LIMITS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! SEE HOW CUPID FIRES HIS ARROWS!”
    We don’t know if Theresia Metzer received every single postcard so feverously or if she found Josef’s ‘Notes and Characters’ and his inflated use of apostrophes partly a sufferance. It remains unexplained also if our fictional postman guessed the secrets of the young pair. It is safe to say that Josef Fröwis took his Resi in the end to the altar and that his encoded postcard collection remains today, one of the most comprehensive of its kind.

  4. #4 werner
    10. Januar 2019

    An easy way to translate from German to English and vice versa are the various Online-Translators. For the actual combination I would prefer DeepL. But anyway, I agree it’s nice to see a German article in a German Blog from time to time. 😉

  5. #5 Alex
    10. Januar 2019

    Danke. Endlich wieder ein deutschsprachiger Text in der Kryptokolumne.
    Sehr schön.

  6. #6 Klaus Schmeh
    10. Januar 2019

    @Colin: Thank you very much for the translation!!!

  7. #7 Olivia von Westernhagen
    10. Januar 2019

    @Colin: nice work – thank you! 🙂

  8. #8 tomtoo
    11. Januar 2019

    Ja die Liebe. Sehr romantisch.