Foreign Intelligence Service reveals original 1930s Enigma machine
An original 1930s German Enigma machine kept hidden in the shadows by Poland’s Foreign Intelligence Agency has been thrust into public view after being donated to the Enigma Cipher Centre in Poznań.
Dating from 1937, the machine with the model number A7874 was used by the Third Reich’s military and special forces and would have been the same model the Polish cryptologists faced when working on trying to break the infamous code.
The Enigma Cipher Centre, whose opening last year is currently nominated in a public vote for ‘Historical Event of the Year 2021’, tells the detailed story of the Polish mathematicians who were instrumental in helping to crack the Enigma code, an act which is widely argued to have helped to shorten WWII by two years.
The mathematicians worked as part of the Polish Army’s Cipher Bureau, set up in 1931 and headed by Major Gwido Langer and his deputy, Captain Maksymilian Ciężki.
The Bureau was a successor of the earlier, highly regarded Cipher section of the Polish Army, formed in 1919, which was successful in intercepting messages encrypted by the Russians in the Polish-Bolshevik War between 1919-1920.
The evolution of the new Cipher Bureau in the 1930s into a team that broke Enigma, lay in Ciężki’s belief that the key to codebreaking lay not in linguistics, but in mathematics.
Having taught a secret course on cryptology at the University of Poznań, Ciężki made the decision to recruit three of its brightest young mathematicians, Marian Rejewski, Henryk Zygalski and Jerzy Rόżycki, a decision which would prove fortuitous.
Between 1932 – 1938, the three mathematicians worked together in Poznań and then Warsaw on deciphering messages encrypted by Enigma machines.
On the 26th July 1939, Major Maksymilian called a meeting with French and British counterparts at Pyry Forest outside Warsaw, in which he, Rejewski, Zygalski and Rόżycki revealed that they had been reading German signals transmitted by Enigma machines since 1933.
They also revealed how they had been doing it which formed the basis for further work and breakthroughs at Bletchley Park in Britain.
The A7874 Enigma machine marks a major addition to the display at the Enigma Cipher Centre, which until now, had also displayed a civilian model of the Enigma machine and a Polish replica of the German machine.
Mariusz Wiśniewski, Vice-President of the City of Poznań said at the presentation ceremony of the machine, “The mission of the Centre [Enigma Cipher Centre] is above all to cultivate memory and remind people of the contribution of Poles and the roles of Poznań in the breaking of the German coding machine.
“This is the fundamental aim, that we are fulfilling since September last year when the Enigma Cipher Centre officially began its operations.
“One of the elements of our activities is to rotate the presence of exhibits connected with the history of Enigma.”
On loan from the Foreign Intelligence Agency, the original military Enigma machine will be on display until the end of 2022.
To find out more about voting for the Enigma Cipher Centre as Historical Event of the Year 2021, visit Wydarzenie Historyczne Roku 2021 - Centrum Szyfrów Enigma wśród nominowanych - Aktualności - Info | Poznan.pl (www.poznan.pl)