BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: World: Europe
Front Page 
World 
Africa 
Americas 
Asia-Pacific 
Europe 
Middle East 
South Asia 
-------------
From Our Own Correspondent 
-------------
Letter From America 
UK 
UK Politics 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Education 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 



The BBC's Jan Repa
"The Poles say the Enigma code was first broken in 1933"
 real 28k

Monday, 18 September, 2000, 17:43 GMT 18:43 UK
UK gives Enigma machine to Poles
Bletchley Park
Bletchley Park: The UK's secret Enigma decoding centre
The Duke of York, the Queen's second son, has presented the Polish Government with an original example of the German war-time Enigma coding machine.

At a ceremony in Warsaw, Prince Andrew thanked the Polish Prime Minister, Jerzy Buzek, for Poland's pivotal role in cracking Nazi Germany's Enigma code.

Poland has long said its mathematicians broke the Enigma code used by the Nazis to send secret orders and messages.

Poles have accused the UK of failing to acknowledge their country's codebreaking achievement.

Allied successes linked to Enigma breakthrough
1940 Battle of Britain
1943 Soviet victory at Kursk
1944 Normandy invasion
US defeat of Japanese navy in Coral Sea and Midway battles

Some historians suggest the cracking of Enigma may have shortened World War II by several years.

The Nazis used Enigma to direct ships, submarines and armies on all war fronts.

The Japanese also used a modified version of Enigma, which was duplicated by the Americans.

Polish role

Prince Andrew handed over an Enigma machine taken from a captured Nazi submarine, as a "symbol of our gratitude".

"The Enigma codes would not have been broken if it were not for the knowledge of Polish mathematicians," he was quoted as saying at the start of a two-day visit.

Prince Andrew with Polish Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek
Prince Andrew thanked Poland for its agents' key role

Mr Buzek said he was "greatly satisfied" that the UK officially recognised that Enigma was decoded by the Poles.

Polish historians say three Polish mathematicians - Marian Rejewski, Jerzy Rozycki and Henryk Zygalski - broke the Enigma code in 1933.

In July 1939, just before the war, Poland gave Britain and France replicas of the Enigma encoding machine, helping the Allies decipher secret Nazi messages.

According to British accounts, British cryptographers cracked the code a year before war broke out.

Mr Buzek asked Britain on Monday to change the Encyclopaedia Britannica entry on Enigma to credit the Poles for their role in breaking the system.

Enigma machine
Enigma: Poland demanded recognition for its codebreaking success

A British-Polish Joint Historical Commission has been set up to clear up fallacies and misconceptions about the two countries' war-time roles.

After the Nazis invaded Poland in September 1939, the three Polish mathematicians escaped to France.

They went on to work for the intelligence services based at the Bletchley Park decoding centre.

British cryptographers went on to break successively more sophisticated German codes throughout the war.

UK police are still trying to track down another Enigma code machine stolen on 1 April from Bletchley Park Museum.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
BBC RADIO NEWS
BBC ONE TV NEWS
WORLD NEWS SUMMARY
PROGRAMMES GUIDE
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Europe stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Europe stories