Original Enigma to be purchased by Museum of Polish History

After the acquisition, the Enigma will enrich the permanent exhibition of the Museum of Polish History. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The original German Enigma cipher machine, which produced the code broken by Polish cryptologists, will be purchased by the Museum of Polish History (MHP).

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The purchase is available thanks to funds given by the American technology company Prescient. After the acquisition, the Enigma will enrich the permanent exhibition of the MHP.

A letter of intent between the two institutions was signed on Wednesday in Kraków, where the Polish branch of the company is located. The meeting was attended by, among others, the director of the MHP Robert Kostro and the president of Prescient Satyen Patel.

Mr Patel stated that financing the purchase of the Enigma, the decryption of which has become one of the symbols of Polish science is "a token of the company’s gratitude for development opportunities for Prescient in Poland.”

"This is our small contribution to Polish history and the expansion of the MHP’s collection. Even now, we benefit from that groundbreaking achievement of the Polish scientists who not only deluded the Nazis but also laid the foundations for new technological solutions," Mr Patel said.

Robert Kostro stressed that the financing of the purchase of an exhibit by an American partner is very important for the MHP for three reasons: Enigma, as an important symbol of the Polish contribution to the defeat of Nazi Germany, will be an essential part of the MHP; it is also the biggest donation ever received from a foreign company and the biggest single donation to enrich the MHP’s permanent exhibition.

Mr Kostro pointed out that although some remarkable names of Polish scientists, like Mikołaj Kopernik and Maria Skłodowska-Curie, are known worldwide, the MHP wants them to be joined by the names of the Enigma codes’ breakers: Marian Rejewski, Jerzy Różycki, and Henryk Zygalski.

"Their achievement is still little known, although this deed significantly contributed to the victory of the Allies over the Third Reich and curtailed WWII by many months, maybe even years, thus millions of lives were saved thanks to them. That is why we want Enigma to be in the permanent exhibition of the MHP,” Mr Kostro said.

The machine, that will be purchased by the MHP, was manufactured in the early 1930s. It is a copy of the pre-series Enigma, one of the first encryption machines that the German Army was equipped with.

The historic exhibit is in decent condition and is almost fully equipped. The machine has undergone a series of upgrades and repairs over the years of use, which indicates its intensive use during the 1930s and WWII.

The MHP will purchase the Enigma from a private collector from the UK. The cost of the purchase is estimated at several hundred thousand PLN.

Henryk Zygalski, Marian Rejewski, and Jerzy Różycki were the Polish mathematicians who broke the Enigma code in January 1933 using a cryptographic technique called “Zygalski sheets”.

Deciphering the code helped the three mathematicians to construct a replica of the original Enigma machine.

More details on cracking down Enigma by Polish cryptologists can be found on Our Stream.