Museum of Polish History to acquire Enigma encryption machine

An original German Enigma encryption machine, whose code was broken by Polish mathematicians, is to be purchased and become a part of a permanent exhibition at the Museum of Polish History.

Funds for this purpose were provided by Prescient, an American technology company.

On Wednesday, a letter of intent between the two institutions was signed in Kraków, where the Polish branch of the Prescient company is located. The meeting was attended by Robert Kostro, director of the Museum of Polish History, and Satyen Patel, president of Prescient, among other officials.

"Prescient is honoured to pay homage to all the men and women who broke German Enigma code by financing the acquisition of this rare and historic machine for the Polish History Museum. Purchasing the Enigma machine for the Museum is our contribution to Polish society, and a sign of our respect and commitment to preserving Poland's history," said Patel.

"This is our small contribution to Polish history and the construction of the Museum of Polish History, and it's also a symbolic thanks. Even to this day, we are feeling the benefits from the groundbreaking achievement of Polish scientists who not only tricked the Nazis, but also laid the foundations for new technological solutions," said the president of Prescient.

As emphasised by Satyen Patel, financing the purchase of a display piece whose code-breaking has become one of the symbols of Polish scientific thought was also a show of gratitude on the part of the company for the opportunities which it has received as a result of its operations in Poland.

Robert Kostro, Director of the Museum of Polish History, stressed that the financing of the purchase of the German Enigma encryption machine by its American partner is an important event for the facility for three reasons: the machine is an important symbol of the Polish contribution to defeat Nazi Germany during World War II and therefore something that must be a part of the Museum of Polish History collection; so far, it is the largest donation received from a foreign company; and it the largest single donation to the museum's permanent exhibition.

He reminded everyone that the completion of the construction and the opening of the museum and permanent collection of the Museum of Polish History, located within the Warsaw Citadel (the so-called Independence Park) is planned for 2021. The building will have over 36,000 sq. m. of space, and is currently the largest investment in Polish culture.

The machine, which will go to the museum, was manufactured in the early 1930s. It is a copy from the Enigma series and is one of the first encryption machines which was used by the German army. The historic exhibition piece is a machine which is almost totally complete - it is in excellent condition, and its external appearance corresponds to the original, well-preserved Enigma I machine. It has undergone a series of upgrades and repairs over its years of use, which indicates that it was intensively used during the 1930s and World War II. As a result of these modernizations and repairs, it is an efficient and operational machine.

The Polish museum will buy the machine from a private collector from Great Britain. The cost of purchase is estimated at several hundred thousand zlotys.

German military texts which enciphered on the Enigma machine were first broken by the Polish Cipher Bureau, starting in December 1932. This success was a result of efforts by three Polish cryptologists, Marian Rejewski, Jerzy Różycki and Henryk Zygalski, working for Polish military intelligence.