A postcard depicting tourist attractions in the Swabian Jura bears an encrypted message. Can you decipher it?

When I blog about an encrypted postcard, I usually I need to take a geography lesson. This is because the senders and receivers of the cards I have covered on this blog over the last five years lived in all parts of Europe and North America. However, when blog reader, friend, comedy hacker, postcard collector, and crypto book expert Tobias Schrödel

Used with permission

… recently provided me another encrypted postcard from his collection, things were quite easy for me. This is because the places involved are located in the area where I grew up, the Swabian Jura (known as Schwäbische Alb to Germans) in the Southwestern part of Germany.


The postcard

Source: Public Domain

As can be seen, the recipient of the postcard was an Emil Beck (probably not identical with the fencing coach of the same name), living in the Swabian Jura city of Reutlingen. His street address, Albstr. 58, still exists today. Apparently, Emil Beck worked as a “Kaufmann” (merchant).

The stamp on the card shows the number 98. Was it sent in 1898? If so, it would be quite early. Most postcards of this printing quality I have seen were produced at least two decades later.

Let’s now look at the picture page of the card:

Source: Public Domain

The pictures show places related to the Nebelhöhle (Misty Cave), …

License: CC BY-SA 3.0    Source: macmorning

… a tourist attraction on the Swabian Jura, located near Reutlingen. The middle picture in the top row depicts the nearby Lichtenstein Castle.

License: CC BY-SA 4.0     Source: Andreas Tille

Both the cave and the castle are known to me from school trips.


The message

The message on the picture side contains a few words in the clear:

I’m not sure what they mean. Is the first word “Burgführer” (castle guide)? The encrypted message consists of a main part …

… and something that looks like a signature.

Can a reader break this encryption?

Further reading: An unsolved Pigpen graffiti

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Kommentare (2)

  1. #1 Norbert
    22. Dezember 2018

    Instead of “Burgführer”, I read “herzlichen Gruß” 🙂

  2. #2 Klaus Schmeh
    22. Dezember 2018

    @Norbert: You’re right, this makes sense.