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  • Faithful to my Homeland, the Republic of Poland

     

  • NEWS

  • 21 November 2014

    The families of Polish mathematicians who had broken the code of the German cipher machine Enigma were guests this week at Bletchley Park, an historic code and cypher facility near London. The meeting was held on the initiative of the UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond.

    The Polish guests were received at Bletchley Park by Ian Standen, Chief Executive Officer of the Museum, and representatives of its UK trust institutions. On the eve of the Bletchley Park visit, the Polish cryptologists’ relatives were entertained to a dinner given by the Polish Embassy in London.

     

    Back in the 1930s, Polish mathematicians: Marian Rejewski, Jerzy Różycki and Henryk Zygalski were decrypting first cables that had been coded with the Enigma machine. They made a few decoding devices, including the so-called cryptologic Bomba. Just before the outbreak of the Second World War, the Poles without any preconditions turned their expertise and a copy of the Enigma over to the UK and French secret services, at a meeting in a radio intelligence facility in Pyry. That helped the Allies in instantly working out the movements and intentions of the German forces.

     

    The late Professor John Irving Good, who worked at Bletchley Park during the war, years later called one of Rejewski’s formulas devised in his pioneering attempt at breaking the Enigma code as “the formula that had won the Second World War.”

     

    The work to crack the Enigma code using the breakthrough discoveries by the Polish Cipher Bureau cryptologists was taken up by the British services at Bletchley Park in autumn 1939. 

     

     

    Following the Polish Cipher Bureau’s successful example, the British then decided to include mathematicians, and not only linguists, in their decryption team. It was then that this team was joined by the now famous mathematician from the University of Cambridge, Alan Turing.

     

    Turing’s group initially relied on the Polish crypto-analytical methods, using among others the so-called Zygalski’s sheets. In January 1940 Turing met with Marian Rejewski in Paris to talk about the solutions that had been devised earlier by the Polish Cipher Bureau. Turing also further developed the design of Rejewski’s Bomba, and engineered what was called Turing’s Bombe, or a machine which proved vital in breaking the Enigma code during the war.

     

    The visit of Polish mathematicians’ families to Bletchley Park, organised several months after the conference in Warsaw to commemorate the 75th anniversary of turning Polish cryptologic achievements over to the Allies, overlapped with the film premiere of The Imitation Game, with Benedict Cumberbatch starring as Alan Turing.

     

    MFA Press Office

     

    Photo: Iza Rembisz/Polish Embassy in London

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