Together we cooked up a scheme for me to parachute from France into northern Italy and then fall back into Hitler’s redoubt. A fascinating scheme; it might have been my last. As it was, Hitler failed to carry out his part of the plan and I found myself instead with the advance guard of the OSS in Berlin, where, well inside the Soviet Zone, with a Russian major and a bottle of vodka, I realized, sadly, that our enemies had changed.

The only constant in this crazy world would appear to be one’s friends.

– Peter Tompkins, last two paragraphs of A Spy in Rome

One of the biggest challenges with APEX Theory has always been the fact that somewhere around Step 8, the 97 characters of K4 get reduced to only 48 characters.  As I wrote in Step 10, this fact presents a dilemma because during a talk at the Hirshhorn Museum, on September 23, 2005, Jim Sanborn stated, “The final section that hasn’t been decoded yet is approximately one hundred characters.”  So in subsequent steps APEX Theory somehow needs to increase the character count back up from 48 characters to “approximately 100”. Considering that the theory also needed to explain how the “APEX” easter egg was injected into this intermediate stage, things seemed dire indeed.  The only way that I could envision satisfying these requirements was through the use of a book code, whereby Jim Sanborn, knowing that he needed to choose 24 words (indexed by 2 characters each) while also leaving this histogram in place, simply contrived the message and chose his words judiciously so that he could weight those letters more heavily.  At least, that was the theory.

Along with the recent plaintext clue (i.e. “BERLIN” at character positions 64-69) came the information that the plaintext solution contains exactly 97 characters.  While that doesn’t damage the logic that a book code could have been used, it significantly increases the likelihood that something else was (i.e. custom mixtures of transposition/substitution methods that leave the character count unmodified).  So, on a relative likelihood basis anyway, this may be perceived as a blow to APEX Theory.  I appreciate that, and I’m likely to continue my current mode of attack only for some fixed length of time.  After that, I will probably retrace back to Step 5 of APEX Theory.  This step occurs prior to character count reduction of K4, and it is also the step at which I have the most confidence.  Steps prior to 5 are all elegantly and simply motivated, and their easter eggs are more artistic and obvious.  (Pundits that have claimed I purposely manipulated my steps to arrive at those easter eggs are incorrect.  They need to go back and read Steps 1-5, including the motivation and observations, and give me the benefit of the doubt that I have been sincere in the description.)

Before I retrace back to Step 5, there is something that I am very excited about, and it must be checked out.  But first here is some background and speculation regarding Jim Sanborn’s actions and motivations…

The Book that Wasn’t and the Clue that Was

In September of 2009, I met Jim Sanborn and Ed Scheidt at a dinner in McLean, VA (not far from CIA HQ) along with a host of other Kryptos fans.  (We were given a banquet room to ourselves for the occasion.)  The food was excellent, the company fantastic, and the atmosphere was electric.   This was an event that I won’t soon forget.  After dinner, we mingled and shared our progress with Jim, Ed, and each other.

Notably, when I first started talking with Jim, he told me that he intended to write a book on Kryptos that contained facts, history, hints, guidance, encouragement, etc.  I thought “Really?  A whole book?”.  Then I proceeded to tell him about my work, and later I got a chance to do so with Ed too.  Other Kryptos researchers in attendance did the same.  But Jim and Ed had their poker faces on that night, so I didn’t really expect any feedback (positive or negative) to come from those exchanges.

So all this year, I’ve been waiting for news about this book.  Through the Kryptos grapevine (perhaps the Yahoo Kryptos Group page) I heard that Jim might still produce the book if he could find a publisher.  Again, I thought “Really?”  I find that hard to believe.  Jim Sanborn is already a published author, and I also believe that a book on Kryptos would sell at least a hundred thousand copies worldwide within a month.  While that might not land the book on the bestseller lists, it certainly puts it in the realm of economically  sound.  In my opinion, if Jim decided to write a Kryptos book, he would be able to find a publisher.  Something else is causing his reluctance.

Now comes this clue via the New York Times, as opposed to a book.  “BERLIN” at positions 64-69.  Quite the clue… or is it?   I find the nature of this clue quite interesting, almost more so than its content.  This is a crib, and cryptographers worldwide must be salivating in their sleep over it.  Cribs are extremely useful for cracking codes, especially if you’ve got some powerful computers at your disposal and know how to use them.  But here’s the rub:  cribs are useless without a candidate method to test them with.  If the K4 method is truly a custom code (as both Sanborn and Scheidt have indicated) then you need to be at least in the vicinity of the method before the crib will help.

So I am left with some questions:

(1) What really happened with regard to Jim’s intentions to write a book?

(2) Why did he provide a crib?

I think the answer to these two questions is the same:  somebody is relatively close to the right method, and Jim Sanborn knows it.  He found out about it sometime between the beginning of that dinner and now.

So I have proposed that Jim’s provision of a crib is interesting unto itself.  Now what about the content?  I find that interesting too.  While any 6 characters in the set of 97 would provide a significant boost for an attack (given the method) why did Jim choose to provide those 6?  He could have given us something less unique, like “andthe”, or perhaps even 6 characters that fell across word boundaries.  (Some have suggested that that may have happened here, and that this is not really the word “Berlin” but instead something like “rememBER LINcoln”.  Although that’s possible, I’ll be investigating a different premise for a while.)

So, my premise is that this is indeed the word “Berlin”, and I am wondering why Jim gave us that particular crib.  One possible answer is that such a unique crib can be more helpful than something more innocuous, like “ANDTHE”.  At a minimum, it sets some context about which we can extend the crib.  At the Kryptos Yahoo Group, folks have talked about guessing what may precede these characters, e.g. the words “West” or “East” may be likely.  But if one can say that a unique crib word provides a small boost (as compared to 6 common characters) when trying to crack a substitution cipher, then one could also say that it provides a tremendous boost for a book cipher.  After all, a unique word can help narrow the set of candidate books as well as help determine the method of indexing into them. (“ANDTHE” would do neither.) Since this is currently my preferred area of study for APEX Theory, using the word “Berlin”, I have studied some books and considered the methods.  And I am very excited about something I found…

The Peter Tompkins Connection

As I posted before on this blog, I have found numerous parallels between Kryptos elements and the literary works of Peter Tompkins.  I am convinced that Kryptos references his books, and regardless of whether the relationship is pertinent to solving K4 or the alleged mystery that lies beyond, I am certain that this is important.  The amazing thing is that the only reason I discovered this connection is because of APEX Theory’s insistence that only a book code fits the requirements.  Wouldn’t it be a wonder if APEX Theory is a big pile of steaming bunk, and yet it pointed me towards something important by pure serendipity?  Well, I guess that stranger things have happened, so I can’t prove otherwise.  But I decided to look a little more, and I found some more relevance to Peter Tompkins.

In my supplemental report, I listed a whole bunch of parallels between Kryptos elements (e.g. limestone chunk, red granite, whirlpool, green blob, “SOS”, and alignment of sculpture/pond/strata with Washington Monument) and Tompkins’ books (Secrets of the Great Pyramid, Secrets of the Soil, and The Magic of Obelisks).  Well, there are two more parallels that I didn’t introduce in that report, and so I’ll bring them into play now:

(1) One of Tompkins’ biggest bestsellers was The Secret Life of Plants, a far out treatise that raises the question of whether plants have consciousness and can remember events.  That sure does resonate well with the morse code “LUCID MEMORY” followed by “RQ” (which is essentially a way of placing a question mark at the end of a morse code statement).  The focus of the book is on answering the questions:  Are plants lucid? Do they have memory?  (I had already related the subsequent “SOS” to the book Secrets of the Soil, and I provided a very interesting dust jacket picture to support the relationship.)

(2)  Amongst the various Tompkins’ books that I identified, one of my favorite candidates for book code source was A Spy in Rome, which was essentially Tompkins’ autobiography of the time he spent as an OSS agent in Rome near the end of WWII.  I liked this book because the other Tompkins’ books were strangely hinted at, and we may have been expected to put two and two together and then make the final leap to this one.

Here’s what I find so exciting in light of the new Sanborn clue: after Peter Tompkins (admirably) performed his espionage duties in Rome, his next assignment was in Berlin.  Now, one might think that a book about WWII and living amongst the Gestapo in Germany-occupied Rome would be filled with instances of the word “Berlin”. Well, I checked, and that is not the case.  This book is written entirely from Tompkins’ perspective, and it is quite focused on giving you the description of his local events and observations rather than a dissertation on the general WWII situation.  As such, there are only two occurrences of the word “Berlin” in the entire book.  One of them is in the middle, on page 110, when Tompkins references a German officer coming to Rome with orders directly from Berlin.  But the other occurrence is the most interesting.  The second occurrence happens on the very last page, just a few lines up from the end, and in perfect position for indexing by alphabet characters if you work from the end. The quote at the top of this post contains the relevant passage, and it marks a transitional moment in history: WWII is ending, our enemies change from the Germans to the Russians, and the fledgling OSS gives way to the CIA. I find this very fascinating. (Perhaps “IT WAS TOTALLY INVISIBLE.  HOWS THAT POSSIBLE?” is a clue that is supposed to make us think about referencing words by alphabet characters in the reverse direction?  I = INVISIBLE; T=TOTALLY.  Of course, I’m not suggesting that it be as simple as pulling off the first letter of each word. The indexing scheme would most likely be numeric, but with letters as substitutes.)

In the next few days, I am going to work on creating an ASCII file that is delimited such that one can distinguish individual words, lines, paragraphs, and pages.  I’ll be making that file available at the Yahoo Kryptos Group so that computer-savvy people can ingest the text and investigate modes of indexing either my APEX sequence or any other sequence their own theories indicate are significant.  I am asking for help because I have very little time to work on Kryptos.


Randy Thompson

22 Responses to “Berlin”

  1. Chuck Finley Says:

    I heard about you through a mutual friend. Is it true that Sanborn personally contacted you and told you that you were on the right path?


    • apexofkryptos Says:

      No. There’s no truth to that whatsoever. Who told you that?

      I can see you work at my same company, so you might as well call me and tell me where you heard this false tale.

  2. Chuck Finley Says:

    Perhaps you just want to keep it a secret to maintain your head start.


    • apexofkryptos Says:

      This is a moderated blog. If I wanted to keep your info secret, all I had to do was reject your comment.

      But feel free to help me. It’s what I’ve been requesting for over a year. Just don’t do it under false impressions.


  3. would appreciate your thoughts on Kryptos Matrix theory and the ORIGIN of the CIA

    • apexofkryptos Says:

      Well, I’m not really sure which Kryptos Matrix theory you are referring to, but I am a proponent of my own: APEX Theory. With respect to the origin of the CIA, I have been looking into the OSS, which Peter Tompkins was a member of. I believe there are numerous references to his work in the peripheral elements of Kryptos. You can read all of my thoughts by following the links on my blog.

      • nomysteryman Says:

        i cite the Kryptos MatriX theory as outlined on this blog

      • apexofkryptos Says:

        Honestly, I tried reading it just now, and I have no idea where it is trying to lead. It’s just a jumble of observations, kind of a stream of consciousness thing lacking motivation, or plans.

        Can you even show me where it offers a solution, or even a plan to find it?

        So far, my thoughts would be this: take a clue from APEX Theory (even if it is not correct). For every step you take, provide motivation and results that are compelling. After each step, think about how this will result in a plan to solve K4. Otherwise, people will frown on your work.


  4. Corey Copeland Says:

    I enjoyed youR websitE.

  5. Hi. I read through your theories. It seems that you are making some very serious attempts at attacking Kryptos in the way it was intended by the creator. You might consider, however, that you are indeed close, but that the BERLIN clue was intended to indicate to you where you went wrong. I’m sure you have considered this, actually. Oh, have you also noticed that SOS and OSS share letters?

  6. Rick A. Roberts Says:

    John Paul Vann said that during the Vietnam War, Phoenix Operations Project one-half of those VC listed as killed were included to meet Phoenix Goals. He said that they were “Post Facto” Identification.
    I too “SALUTE A ROSE IN VALOR(U.S. Flag).
    Rick A. Roberts

    • apexofkryptos Says:

      Or since we are going to ignore Sanborn’s clue, perhaps K4 reads: “IF YOU DRIVE DOWN THE HIGHWAY IN A CANOE, HIT A BUMP, AND BREAK THE WINDSHIELD, THEN SEVEN PANCAKES CAN SHINGLE A DOGHOUSE.” It makes about as much sense as your answer and has the added benefit of being 97 characters (leaving out punctuation and spaces).

      Seriously, though, I would love to see how you arrived at your solution.

      • Rick A. Roberts Says:

        Thank you for sharing your thoughts on my deciphered Kryptos 4. I believe that my answer makes plenty of sense. “NYPVTT” does not equal “BERLIN”, in the coded message. Here is my deciphered answer; “NEARONDNERNBELNBELNBTWEENWBRAAXROEALLNSNSALAALLVANNNOSAABOUTONTOWEOKXASSKNWXANEUANDSALUTEAROOOVALOR”. It reads, ” NEAR ROND DINNER BELL IN BETWEEN NORTHWEST BARRACKS ROW ALL INSIDE NSA LIMITS AND ALL VANN KNOWS ABOUT WE KNOW TOO CROSS ASKEW NORTHWEST CROSS AND YOU SALUTE A ROSE IN VALOR”. This is how I arrived at my solution to Kryptos 4.
        There was a large bell on the grounds of the NSA limits. Crossed sidewalks are also located there. There is also a large flag pole with flag on the grounds. Cross the sidewalk and turn askew(at right angle) to look up and see the flagpole(Rose In Valor) and salute it. I believe that if there is something buried on the grounds of NSA, then it may be located around the base of the flagpole. Also, some people say that the manhole cover near the sidewalk might be where something of value is buried.
        In regard to “BERLIN”, “NYPVTT” in my decipher = “OKXINS”. There is no one to correspondence. The code is scrambled in some parts and in other parts it is fairly easy to read the message.
        I think that “BERLIN”, refers to what item or items may be buried on the grounds near the base of the flag.
        Please let me know what you have for a serious answer to Kryptos 4. Again, I believe that my answer is very reasonable. Thank you very much.

      • Rick A. Roberts Says:

        I have posted a more extensive answer to Kryptos 4 . Please see this where I have made two additional postings in relation to your post. Thank you.

  7. Rick A. Roberts Says:

    Here is rest of my decipher that got cut off in previous post of mine; “…LLVANNNOSAABOUTONTOWEOKXASSKNWXANEUANDSALUTEAOROOOVALOR”. My solution has 97 characters also, not taking any punctuation into account. Thank you.

    • apexofkryptos Says:

      OK, I have seen all of your posts, and I was able to see the rest of the cutoff line in the original post as well. Here are my thoughts:

      1) You really have to reach to take the final step from your K4 decryption to get to the final answer. I don’t like that much, however…

      2) Your 97 character K4 decryption has an interesting amount of apparent content in it that doesn’t seem entirely random. That is good, so…

      What would really make me take notice is if you can show how you arrived at the 97 character decryption in the first place. If that process involves any reaches that are as ambiguous as the one you have shown here, then I would say you have guided your solution too much.

      Also, please note that Sanborn has stated clearly on numerous occasions (twice to my face, in person) that the decrypted plaintext has exactly 97 characters and “NYPVTT” decodes directly to “BERLIN”. Forget about that for a second though. Please show me how you arrived at those 97 characters.

      • Rick A. Roberts Says:

        Thank you for getting back to me with your thoughts on my answer to Kryptos 4. When I first worked on my decryption, I used letter substitution and first started out by noting where there were two of the same letter that were next to each other and to find out where the vowels were located. This was a very tedious, and time consuming. I worked on one line at a time of the code. Then, looking at the deciphered parts that I had, I could see some of the text where it stood out as plain as day to me. Also, I noticed that some of the message was mixed in the code and that some of it was not spelled out as it was written, but as it sounds. I did not know of the significance of many of the parts until after I had done my deciphering of the code.
        I did not try to make anything up to fit just so. This is just how I figured my deciphering out. I then did research on Mr. John Vann. I also talked to my Dad as he worked at NSA at one time when he was in the Air Force. We lived at Fort Meade for four years.
        As for “BERLIN” and “NYPVTT”, I think that I have stumbled onto something. In my deciphering “NYPVTT” corresponds to “OKXASS”. When I typed in OKXASS on the internet I looked down to the seventh article on the page and it referred to – DEUTCHSCHES WORTERBUCH VOL. 1(DWB). I found out that this was the first German Dictionary(largest & most comprehensive of German Language), written by eight different authors including the Brothers Grimm of Fairy Tale fame in Leipzig, Germany. It was started in 1878 and finished by others in 1961.
        From September 21, 1933 to December 23, 1933 The Leipzig Trial was held. It found that, ” Laws of Nazi Germany went against the basic ideas of justice”. This was just before Hitler came to power. In the 1980’s and later many people thought that Hitler was still alive and living in Argentina or Brazil. Some people in Mato Grosso, Brazil thought that he was living under an assumed name of Adolf Leipzig.
        When I looked at a starting page of DWB, I noticed that there was an angel with wings holding a paper or booklet. The booklet reads, “IM ANFANG WAR DAS WART”, in German. This translates to “IN THE BEGINNING WAS THE Waiting”.
        As I thought about the dictionary and “BERLIN”, I took another look at the Latitude and Longitude cited by Mr. Sanborn, I noticed something. The Latitude was Thirty-Eight Degrees, Fifty-Seven Minutes, Six & 1/2 Seconds North and the Longitude was Seventy-Seven Degrees, Eight Minutes, Forty-Four Seconds West. When you place this into GPS on internet, the location is Yarkant, Kashgar, Xinjiang, China ! This is where Mahmud al – Kashgar wrote the first Diyan – Lugat – it Turkic _ Arabic Exemplary Dictionary ! Also, a (59ft.), 18 M high statue of Mao is in the center of the city space. Perhaps most important of all is that the Afaq Khoja Tomb is in the center of the city space. It is the Holiest Muslim Site in Xinjiang and it was built in the 17TH Century.
        I am thinking that something related to Hitler, “BERLIN”, and the DWB Dictionary and Diyan – Lugat – it … Muslim Dictionary is buried near where the flag pole is or the manhole cover or dot is that is photoed on NSA Grounds.
        Sorry I went on, but I am really interestedin this as I know that you also are. I read some of your work that you have done and I find it very informative and interesting. Thanks for sharing about Kryptos 4.

      • apexofkryptos Says:

        THis part: “Thank you for getting back to me with your thoughts on my answer to Kryptos 4. When I first worked on my decryption, I used letter substitution and first started out by noting where there were two of the same letter that were next to each other and to find out where the vowels were located. This was a very tedious, and time consuming. I worked on one line at a time of the code.”

        You need to SHOW me not tell me. This does not seem like a legitimate way to decipher code, but if you show me an example of how you worked to have these words kind of appear, I will give you a stronger opinion.

      • apexofkryptos Says:

        Show me how you “deciphered” the first line.

  8. Rick A. Roberts Says:

    I forgot to mention one more item. The Brothers Grim wrote a story titled, “Leipziig”.

  9. Rick A. Roberts Says:

    I will try my best to show you how I “deciphered” the first line. I look at the first line and I see that there are three letters that have a pair of same letter next to each other in the code. These are “BB”, “QQ”, “ZZ”, and “SS'”, in the code. I go through consonants such as “LL”, “NN”, “TT”, “SS”, “BB”, and substitute them for code letters. Then, I go through vowels, such as, “OO”, “EE”, and “AA”, and substitute them for code letters.
    Next, I replace the single letter of the code with the now known letters ; such as “B” = “E'”, “S” = “L”. Then, since , “SS” = “LL”, I substitute “K” in the code with an “A”. in two positions on the code. I see that the “BS” = “EL”. The letter to the left of “EL” is “B” in the deciphering. The word “BELL” is now spelled. “B” replaces “L” in two more places for the deciphering. The “N” after “BEL” on the code line becomes “IN”. I figured “O” was “N” through substitution. I replaced “O” in code line with “N” in five positions of deciphering line. I looked at “NB(deciphered line)IF(code line)EEW” , and could see “NBTWEEN” for deciphered line. I substituted “W’ for “F” in one more position on deciphering line and N” for “W”. I let “R” = “R” in three places. “BRAA”X = Barracks so, “P” in code line = “X”. “NEAR(deciphered line)”U”(code line)”N”(deciphered line) = “NEARUN” or “NEAROU” + “X”(code line) = “NEAROUND”(deciphered line). “X” = “D”. “DN_R BEL” = “DINNER BELL”. “G” (code line) = “E” (deciphered line). “RNG”(code line) = “ROE” or “ROW”.
    This is how I “deciphered”, first line of code in Kryptos 4. It is difficult to break ones thoughts into show, but I believe that I have done my best.
    As an aside to this, I would like to have comments on the other items that I found and posted in relevance to Kryptos 4. Merci bien.

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