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Rare Enigma machine expected to fetch thousands at auction

The machine on display ahead of the auction Credit: Sotheby's

A rare and exceptionally well-preserved example of the World War II cipher machine, The Enigma, is due to be auctioned later. The machine had a huge impact on the course of 20th-century history, playing a critical role in the codebreaking story that unfolded at Bletchley Park.

Used by Nazi forces during World War II to transmit coded messages - and with around 159 million million million possible settings - the German command was convinced that the Enigma machine produced an unbreakable code.

Famously, Alan Turing and the team at Bletchley Park proved otherwise and their ground-breaking work is said to have shortened the war by two years and saved up to 22 million lives.

Many Enigma machines were destroyed by the Germans as they retreated at the end of the war and the example going under the hammer today could fetch between £50,000 and £70,000.

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