Warsaw – Galeria Kordegarda (Polish Enigma Machine)

When we were on the tram, the ever alert Richard noticed that there was an exhibition on at the moment in Warsaw about the Enigma Cipher Machine. He’s very interested in the whole arrangement at Bletchley Park, so we thought that we’d go and hunt this museum exhibition out. It transpired that it was being held at the Galeria Kordegarda, a short walk from the Old Town, and the exhibition was free of charge which was a bonus.

As can be seen on the map above, the Polish made a huge contribution towards cracking Enigma and there are numerous places in Warsaw which are part of that story.

This diagram explains the difference between the German Enigma and the Polish Enigma machines, with the Poles having developed their replica version of the device.

An original German Enigma machine.

The Polish replica of the Enigma machine, which has apparently never gone on display before.

I hadn’t realised before the importance of the Polish in cracking Enigma and that started in earnest in 1929 when the intelligence service began a cryptology course at Poznań University. Within a few years, Marian Rejewski had broken the Enigma code, meaning that the Poles were the only ones able to read German dispatches. This knowledge was shared with the British and the French in the 1930s, with the operation moving to France in 1939 when the Germans invaded Poland. Much of the work in decrypting German communications then took place at Bletchley Park in the United Kingdom, with the work that was done likely shortening the length of the war.

There’s a better Enigma timeline available at https://enigma.umww.pl/en/enigma-timeline/ which explains the Polish contribution to the whole arrangement.

Unfortunately, this exhibition is I think only here for a short period of time, but it was well worth going to see and Richard should receive credit for being so observant in finding out about it. All of the text was in English, as well as in Polish, and there was a video being shown which gave additional background information.