Friday, September 24th, 2021

Marker to honor Huntington WWII codebreaker

Posted: Friday, September 3, 2021

A historical marker was unveiled Thursday, August 26 commemorating a World War II codebreaker from Huntington. The state historical marker honors Elizebeth Smith Friedman, a female pioneer in the field of cryptanalysis, or breaking a secret code without knowing the key.

Friedman’s career stretched from the 1920s through the 1940s. During World War II and working with her husband, William, she helped unravel Nazi radio messages to their spies and allies in South America.

The couple helped capture some of those agents, weakening the Axis powers, the marker states. Elizebeth Friedman also led and trained the U.S. Coast Guard’s cryptanalytic unit.

Friedman, who passed away in 1980, was the subject of a PBS documentary that aired locally in January. The documentary was based on a book, “The Woman Who Smashed Codes: A True Story of Love, Spies, and the Unlikely Heroine Who Outwitted America’s Enemies,” by Jason Fagone, a San Francisco Chronicle journalist and writer of long-form nonfiction.

She was also honored in 2019 with a U.S. Senate resolution for contributions to national security.

Friedman was the great-aunt of Bonnie Baumgartner of New Haven and Friedman’s grandson includes Chris Atchison.

The marker is the 13th state historical marker installed in Huntington County and one of more than 700 in Indiana. It is located in the Veteran’s Memorial area of Memorial Park, 1200 W. Park Drive, Huntington.