United States Army Intelligence and Security Command

World War II: European Theater

American troops were fighting on foreign soil, surrounded by people speaking different languages, and operating in an environment exploited by Nazi spies, saboteurs, and collaborators. To counter these various threats, the Army relied on agents of the Army Counter Intelligence Corps. The CIC was quick to implement a control system with road blocks and roving patrols and to launch an aggressive security education campaign of posters and loudspeakers with the warning, “be wary of everyone in your area.” On the front lines, the CIC had great success in capturing espionage agents and, in the process, seized large numbers of clandestine radio transmitters, not unlike those in use by the Allies’ own behind-the-lines spies. They also uncovered numerous caches of enemy sabotage explosives. While successful counterintelligence operations protected Allied forces, the breaking of the cipher device called the “Enigma”, which was used by the German Army and Air Force for high-level communications, laid bare the enemies’ most secret plans.



coal bomb

Coal Bomb: A lump of coal that has been hollowed out to hold high explosives (now filled with brown clay). A “pencil”-type detonator would be inserted into the explosive. Coal bombs contained high explosives and were camouflaged to look like ordinary pieces of coal. During WWII, this type of bomb was employed to destroy industrial targets, trains, and ships.


oil can bomb

Oil Can Bomb: This bomb was used by German saboteurs against the Allied Forces and was concealed within a typical European-style oil can. Oil was contained inside the top compartment, but the rest of the can was filled with plastic high explosive. A time-delay detonator was inserted through the nozzle spout. This type of bomb was designed for industrial and railroad sabotage.


enigma electromechanical cipher

WWII-Era German Enigma Electromechanical Cipher Device: A three-rotor electromechanical cipher device, with a plugboard, in a wooden carrying case. The typewriter-like keyboard transmits electrical impulses to illuminate letters on top of the machine.


radio transmitter

WWII-Era Agent Radio Transmitter (SST-1-C), Receiver (SSR-1-E), and AC Power Supply: These three pieces were concealed within a suitcase by Allied agents during clandestine operations.

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Site Last Reviewed/Cleared/Updated on July 27th, 2012