British writer Sir Dermot Turing spoke about the role of Polish mathematicians in decoding the Nazi German Enigma cipher machine at the Józef Piłsudski Institute in New York on Tuesday. Cracking the Enigma code enabled the Allies to intercept German messages thus gaining insight into German military plans, significantly shortening WWII.
The team of Polish mathematicians: Marian Rejewski, Henryk Zygalski and Jerzy Różycki solved the mystery of Enigma in December 1932, and demonstrated how it worked in practice in January 1933.
Just five weeks before the outbreak of WWII, a replica of the Enigma machine, as well as the decoding method were presented by Marian Rejewski to representatives of British and French military intelligence.
Sir Dermot Turing, the nephew of British cryptologist and Enigma decoder Alan Turing (1912-1954), described the events that led up to the breaking of the code in his book, 'X, Y & Z: The Real Story of How Enigma Was Broken.' In his Tuesday speech, he emphasised the role played in breaking down Enigma by Rejewski, Różycki and Zygalski, whose method of calculation enabled Turing to decipher the German code.
He also highlighted the three Poles' construction of a so-called “cryptologic bomb” - an electromechanical device that enabled the German dispatches to be decoded.
According to Sir Dermot Turing, British and US cryptologists would have eventually broken the code without help from the Poles, but they would have needed considerably more time. The meeting with Turing was organised in cooperation with the Polish Consulate in New York.