PBS’ American Experience documentary features secret double life of area woman’s great aunt

Entertainment

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – An upcoming American Experience presentation from PBS titled “The Codebreaker” has a northeast Indiana connection. The story’s subject: The Fort Wayne area’s Bonnie Baumgartner.

Photo courtesy of PBS Fort Wayne

Fort Wayne resident Baumgartner, whose great aunt Elizebeth Smith Friedman is the focus of this new documentary, helped the documentary producers with research and insight about her once mysterious aunt for this program, PBS Fort Wayne said.

Born and raised in the area between Roanoke and Huntington, the story of Friedman and her double life came to light only when classified government files were unsealed decades after her death.

From the PBS series AMERICAN EXPERIENCE, “The Codebreaker” tells the story of Elizebeth Smith Friedman, the groundbreaking cryptanalyst whose painstaking work decoding thousands of messages for the U.S. government would send infamous gangsters to prison and bring down a massive, near-invisible Nazi spy ring in WWII.

A suburban wife and mother, along with her husband, the legendary cryptologist William Friedman, Elizebeth Smith Friedman helped develop the methods that led to the creation of the powerful new science of cryptology and laid the foundation for modern codebreaking today, PBS Fort Wayne said.

Based on the book The Woman Who Smashed Codes: A True Story of Love, Spies, and the Unlikely Heroine Who Outwitted America’s Enemies by Jason Fagone, the film is written and directed by Chana Gazit, produced by Chana Gazit and Hilary Klotz Steinman, and executive produced by Cameo George.

Narrated by Kate Burton, The Codebreaker premieres Monday from 9 p.m. – 10 p.m. on PBS Fort Wayne.

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