Many of us geek love codes, cyphers and other types of hidden messages, and there are few more famous codes than Morse Code. Developed in the 1800s, Morse Code is simple and easy to learn, it’s also easy to write down once you know the correct sequence of dots and dashes that represent each letter. It was this ease of writing down and reading the code without the need of any special equipment that allowed a British prisoner of war to use it to create a subversive piece of art during his time in a Nazi prison camp.
Major Alexis Casdagli was taken prisoner by the Germans in 1941 and sent to a series of prison camps where he whiled away the long hours by sewing. A piece he created in December 1941 looks innocent enough, indeed it looked so innocent that guards allowed him to hang it on the walls at all the camps he stayed in. However the piece contains two subversive messages coded into the borders, messages that if they had been discovered by guards would have put his life at risk. The outer border spells out “God Save the King” and the inner border, the decidedly more risky “F**k Hitler”. To create the piece, Casdagli used threads taken from a disintegrating pullover that belonged to a fellow prisoner, a Cretan general.
For the four years the piece hung on the walls of the prison camps until his release, the Germans never spotted the secret message of defiance hanging in front of them. In fact the Germans were so impressed with the officer’s skills that they had him give classes to other prisoners. Major Casdagli’s defiant stitching has even recently been on display in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. The major continued stitching until his death in 1990 and his son, a retired Royal Navy officer, continues the habit today.
8 thoughts on “British POW Uses Morse Code to Stitch Hidden Message During WWII”
Actually, the OUTER border says f**k hitler in ITU code, not MORSE code according to the little code table included.
I shared on FB. Illegitimi non carborundum!
THIS is all kinds of Awesome. Thank you.
THis is so cool! Thanks for sharing. I always have students who are interested in codes. I will share this story with them.
Wow, that’s amazing! I wish I had this skills…And audacity!
The Germans must not have been paying any attention, since those Morse code messages are extremely obvious if you know the code!
I’ll love to learn more about the coding
I’ve heard about it. This is indeed a very surprising fact, which can not but surprise to this day. By the way, I’ve already heard something similar in a movie starring benedict cumberbatch. I even started looking for messages in my carpet, which I purchased by the link. What if there’s some kind of easter egg message in it, too?
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