Fascinating stories about hidden messages in texts, pictures and other objects – this is what my new book “Versteckte Botschaften” is about. Here are some of the highlights of this work.

The following picture from the 17th century contains a hidden message. Can you find it?


The hidden message is encoded in the windows. Every window stands for a letter of the alphabet, as indicated in the following table:


The message reads: WIR HABEN KEIN PULVER MEHR (“We have run out of powder”).


Versteckte Botschaften

The afore-mentioned picture bearing a hidden message is taken from the book Cryptographia by Johannes Balthasar Friderici. It is an example of Steganography. Steganography is defined as the practice of hiding data within other data or an object. I have written about steganography on this blog many times before.

Already in 2008 I published a book (in German) about the history of cryptography, titled Versteckte Botschaften. Now, a completley new edition of this work has been published. The title is still the same, but the content has changed considerably.


One of the highlights of this book is the fascinating story of the decryption of the book Steganographia written by Johannes Trithemius (1462-1516).


The Steganographia contains hidden messages that were discovered in the late 1990s by two scientists independently from each other. One of them was Thomas Ernst, a reader and frequent commenter of this blog.


My book chapter is one of the first popular-scientific treatises of this discovery. Thomas Ernst himself invested a lot of time in proof-reading it. He even re-wrote some of the passages. For another summary of this great story check the website of Jürgen Hermes, which was one of my sources (I forgot to list this article in the references, which is the first erratum that was found in the book).


More highlights

Other highlights of Versteckte Botschaften include the following stories:

  • Numerous paintings from the 16th and 17th century contain hidden messages.
  • Many magic tricks are based on steganography.
  • Cheating at card games and other games is often based on steganography, too.
  • Spies, prisoners and abduction victims have used steganography.
  • Hitec steganography helped to solve a murder case.

To my regret, this book is only available in German so far. If you know an English publisher interested in a translation I would be very interested to know.

Further reading: Bigram substitution: An old and simple encryption algorithm that is hard to break

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Kommentare (11)

  1. #1 Rich SantaColoma
    5. September 2017

    Congratulations, Klaus! It looks like another fascinating one…

  2. #2 Abhishek Ramchandran
    5. September 2017

    Congratulations Klaus! This book certainly looks interesting! Unfortunately my German is weak, I will have to wait for an English copy. Check out this link, I believe they help upcoming authors.

  3. #3 Thomas
    5. September 2017

    Congratulations, Klaus! I am curious. certainly a great read.

  4. #4 Jürgen Hermes
    5. September 2017

    Thank you for mentioning my (of course not very fruitful) attempts to generate attention for this pioneering work of Thomas Ernst on the Steganographia! And congratz for publishing! The chapter I was allowed to read looks very promising. I think (and hope) you will be more successful in
    distributing this story, that definitely deserves it.

    Btw: I published a more recent version of the tale here – https://texperimentales.hypotheses.org/1970

  5. #5 Peter Lichtenberger
    Nördlich des Limes
    5. September 2017

    Gratuliere ebenfalls!

  6. #6 Davidsch
    5. September 2017

    Congrats with finishing your book. Finishing a book is the hardest for a person to do.
    Why don’t you translate the book yourself, and publish the English version as E-reader?

  7. #7 Jerry McCarthy
    England, Europa
    5. September 2017

    Just to confirm; this would be the ” 2. Aktualisierte und erweiterte Auflage.”? MfG.

  8. #8 ofu
    Hallo Klaus, ich habe eine Frage
    5. September 2017

    Es gibt das “Kriegstagebuch des OKW”.
    Es gibt die “Berichte aus dem Reich” des Sicherheitsdienst.
    Beides verfuegbar als Buch.

    Gibt es auch die Enigma und Lorenz-Geheimschreiber Codes bzw entschluesselten Texte frei verfuegbar, vielleicht sogar Internet ?

  9. #9 Michael BGNC
    5. September 2017


    You will find all Enigma messages, broken in Bletchley Park, at the British National Archive. Digital Microfilm. Online. For free. The so called DEFE3 files.
    Codename Ultra was the designation adopted by British military intelligence in June 1941 for wartime signals intelligence obtained by breaking high-level encrypted enemy radio and teleprinter communications at the Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS) at Bletchley Park.

    But beware, it’s gigabytes of data and hundreds of thousands of messages! You should know exactly what you are looking for. An example: https://enigma.hoerenberg.com/index.php?cat=The%20U534%20messages&page=ULTRA

    All the best


  10. #10 George Lasry
    5. September 2017

    Congratulations! From my limited German I can already see that it is a fascinating book, which I will be happy to try and read! Continue with your great blog and publications, and see you next month.
    Best regards, George

  11. #11 Charlotte Auer
    12. September 2017