UK opens exhibition on Polish-British code breakers
The Bletchley Park code breaking museum near London unveiled a new element to its permanent exhibition on Friday dedicated to the work of the British and Polish scientists who created the so-called 'Bombe' machines for deciphering Germany's Enigma coding machine.
The exhibition is dedicated to the work of three Poles - Marian Rejewski, Jerzy Rozycki and Henryk Zygalski - and the development of their efforts by British mathematician Alan Turing and his Bletchley Park team.
Historians believe that thanks to the invention of the mechanical 'Bombe' code breakers, it was possible to considerably shorten the Second World War, as the Allies were able to affectively intercept Nazi German plans, which were used for example in the planning of the Battle of El Alamein in 1942 as well as making preparations for the 1944 Normandy landings.
"The Germans encrypted most of their military information with the help of the Enigma machine, which looked like a typewriter and was very easy to use, but had many, many millions of settings," Bletchley Park historian David Kenyon explained. "Every morning the German operator prepared the machine in a certain way and later used that cypher for the whole day." Kenyon pointed out that breaking that code was "a job that a person couldn't do." "There exist 103,000 million, million combinations. If we tested each of them every second since the Big Bang, there wouldn't be enough time until today."
The Bletchley Park historian added that Polish and British mathematicians were aided by the fact that "The Germans always send messages in a very special format," which allowed a mathematical search for structural probability in encoded words - such as 'weather forecast' and to then use them to understand the wider code.
The exhibition includes the world's only working replica of the Polish cryptographers' 'Bombe.' The project was financed by the Polish embassy in London within the framework of a joint project with Dr. Marek Grajek and the New Amsterdam company based on Rejewski's original notes.