For my blog, with 2018 the centenary of Poland’s Independence and the year of publication of my novel The Cypher Bureau, inspired by the life of Marian Rejewski, it seemed appropriate to devote some blogging time to famous Polish people or significant Polish achievements.
As a starting point I googled the top ten most famous Poles to see where my hero figured. Marian Rejewski, as the first person to solve the secret of Enigma, the coding device used by Germany during the Second World War would surely be featured. He wasn’t!
Famous Poles listed include Pope Jean Paul II, Marie Curie nee Sklodowska, (first woman to win a Nobel Prize in Physics and first person to win the award twice), Frederic Chopin (composer), Lech Walesa, (founder of Solidarity and Polish Prime Minister), David Ben-Gurion (first Prime Minister of Israel), Roman Polanski, although he was born in Paris (film maker), Helena Rubenstein (entrepreneur).
Surely Marian Rejewski, accredited as the greatest cryptologist of all time, deserves his place. He and his colleagues Jerzy Rozycki and Henryk Zygalski were awarded posthumously in 2014 the prestigious milestone award by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers for an achievement which has changed the world.
How did solving the Enigma code save thousands of lives? Solving Enigma meant that the Allies could read secret Nazi messages during World War II. This ability was particularly important during the Battle of the Atlantic. Britain in pre-war years had imported seventy-five percent of its food. During the war Nazi U-Boats hunted in wolf packs for shipping convoys which they then proceeded to sink ruthlessly. In Britain, a demoralised population under threat of starvation were “digging for victory.” In the summer/autumn of 1940 after the loss of significant material at Dunkirk, many considered the war lost and urged for a peace settlement with Germany. Ability to read Nazi instructions to U-Boats meant that the British bound convoys could avoid the wolf packs and get food to Britain. Without the secret of Enigma the war could have been considerably extended or lost altogether.
Rejewski first solved the code in 1932, an outstanding achievement. Between 1932 and 1939 the Polish codebreakers were reading encrypted messages from Germany. In July 1939 they passed their code breaking secret to their British and French counterparts who at that time had given up completely on breaking the code and had concluded, like the Germans that it was invincible.
When the British discovered the code could be broken they decided, following the example of the Polish Cypher Bureau, to recruit mathematicians for code-breaking instead of drawing from linguists and classicists as had been the practise. Alan Turing, as a brilliant mathematician was recruited to Bletchley Park as a result of the Polish successes and his work and that of the Bletchley team was built on the information which the Polish team had provided. The Polish contribution has been credited with saving the Bletchley Park team two years’ work-a vital contribution at the time.
‘Before Poland fell, you gave the Allies Enigma, the Nazis’ secret coding machine. Breaking the unbreakable Axis code saved tens of thousands of Allied lives, of American lives and for this you have the enduring gratitude of the American people. And ultimately Enigma and freedom fighters played a major role in winning the Second World War.
President George H. Bush 1989 speech at Solidarity Workers Monument Gdansk
If you think Marian Rejewski deserves to make the top ten famous Poles please like and share.
#PL100 #Rejewski #Poland #Enigma #WW2 #history #EnigmaRelay #Polishfestival
g #OnThisDay 1939 A Polish constructed #Enigmamachine was handed to the #British at #Victoria Station #London
Delivering Enigma, the famous coding machine used by Germany during WW2
On 16th August 1939, a Polish constructed Enigma machine was delivered to General Stewart Menzies at Victoria Station in London. The Enigma machine was a gift to the British by The Cypher Bureau in Warsaw, following a successful meeting between The Cypher Bureau’s British and French counterparts on 26th July 1939. They also supplied the French with an Enigma machine. The Cypher Bureau had been successfully reading Enigma messages since 1932 following success by one of their number, Marian Rejewski in breaking the code. Marian Rejewski used mathematics in the form of a theory of permutations, inspired guesswork and material obtained by the French through Captain Gustav Bertrand to successfully break the code. Rejewski was then able to prepare plans for the construction on an Enigma machine, then with these plans AVA electronics factory in Warsaw produced their own machines for use by The Cypher Bureau. The Enigma machine destined for Britain travelled by diplomatic parcel to Paris and was then escorted by a Polish secret agent and Captain Bertrand to the coast. There it was smuggled across the channel in the baggage of an actor. Once on British shores the Enigma machine was recovered by its escorts and delivered to Victoria and the hands of General Stewart Menzies. He took the machine to Bletchley Park where the British codebreakers awaited its arrival with excitement.
Eilidh McGinness blog
THE CYPHER BUREAU
https://www.amazon.co.uk/…/dp/B07C9BB…/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0… of The Cypher Bureau
On this day in July 1939, Polish codebreakers gave the secret of Enigma to their British and French counterparts. Marian Rejewski, acknowledged as the greatest cryptologist of all time, had cracked the code in 1932.
The Poles had enjoyed considerable success in decoding Enigma messages after Marian Rejewski’s achievement but their code breaking success had to kept secret-if the Nazi’s found out they would stop using the code and that route of outwitting the Nazi expansionist agenda would be lost.
In December 1938, the Nazi’s introduced an adaptation to the Enigma machine which made the codebreaking more difficult. The original machine had three interchangeable rotors –now there were five. The increased equipment and manpower required to crack the code were beyond the budget of The Cypher Bureau and they had to look to outside agencies for help.
They contacted their British and French Counterparts to arrange a meeting. The meeting took place at the cypher bureau headquarters in Kabacki Woods just outside Warsaw.
From the Cypher Bureau – Lieutenant Colonel Langer, Major Ciezki, Marian Rejewski, Henryk Zygalski, Jerzy Rozycki.
From Britain- Colonel Stewart Menzies, Alfred Dillwyn Knox, Alistair Denniston
From France-Captain Bertrand, Captain Branquenie.
The British and French reported that they had made no progress in breaking the Enigma code and considered it invincible.
The Poles had a terrible decision to make. Could they risk sharing information?- that would increase the risk of their success being discovered by the Germans. Or should they continue their work in secret-they knew risk of invasion was imminent.
They decided to share the information. The French and British codebreakers returned to their base with information on how to construct their own Enigma machines and full instructions on how to break the code together with the promise of a delivery of an Enigma machine.
“To all commandants of airfields throughout Germany ……….order the apprehension and transportation to Belin, alive or dead ….. of chief of staff Ernst Rohm, ………………..”
The elite Polish codebreaking team, Marian Rejewski, Henryk Zygalski and Jerzy Rozycki were stunned into shocked silence as they realised implications of the message they had decoded using the Polish Enigma machine which had been constructed under Marian’s direction.
The intercepted message was of the highest security classification. It was made under the direction of Adolf Hitler, the leader of Germany’s sole political party, the Nazi’s. The message authorised the apprehension alive or dead of many of Germany’s leading political figures. In itself shocking, as this was effectively a death warrant for those named on the list, the instruction swept away hundreds of years of established German jurisprudence- accused persons were entitled to a trial. Removing this fundamental right to a trial was dispensing with, as if of no significance, one of the fundamental rights in a civilised society.
Ernst Rohm was the leader of the Sturmbteiling (SA), the paramilitary branch of the Nazi party. He was known to be a staunch Nazi supporter and one of its earliest members. He had demonstrated himself to be one of Hitler’s supporters.
The appearance of Ernst Rohm’s name on the list indicated both Hitler’s ruthlessness and strength as a political figure. Ernst Rohm as commander of the SA was powerful. The SA enjoyed a degree of independence and could potentially pose a threat to Hitler’s autonomy if there was a divergence in their political views in the future. That Hitler was prepared to order the death of such a high level ally demonstrated both Hitler’s confidence in his own authority and his ruthlessness in that he was prepared to remove even those who posed a potential threat to his power.
Between the 30thJune and 2ndJuly 1934, under Hitler’s direction hundreds of people were apprehended. The death toll estimates are between eighty-five and one thousand.
Many of those apprehended were immediately executed, others were afforded ‘one minute trials’ before being shot by firing squads.
The Nazi party in the aftermath of ‘Operation Hummingbird’ ordered destruction of all documentary evidence of the orders. Attempts were made to prevent true figures of the death toll from being published.
Days afterwards the German legislature introduced a new law legitimising self-defence by the state in the face of treason –effectively retrospective legislation authorising the murders.
Hitler gave a speech stating “Let it be known for all time to come, that if anyone raises his hand to strike the State, he will die.” His actions effectively established himself as “the supreme administrator of justice for the German people.”
He had in the ‘ Night of the Long Knives’ killed of existing opposition and sent a chilling message of intimidation to those who might consider opposition to his vision for Germany in the future.
The Polish codebreakers watched anxiously over the next few days as the Nazi propaganda machine rolled into action and the justifications for the deaths rolled across newsreels. They had accessed the top secret messages. They knew that Hitler had ordered the murder of his fellow Germans, his supporters and those who might pose a threat to his government. These actions told them more clearly than any encoded message that Poland would be dealt with ruthlessly if Germany chose to invade and seek return of her ‘lost territories’. With heavy hearts they intensified their vital codebreaking work.
Author The Cypher Bureau
CROMARTY CRIME AND THRILLERS WEEKEND CROMARTY BLACK ISLE APRIL 2018
Cromarty Crime and Thrillers Weekend is an excellent opportunity to attend courses and listen to crime and thriller writers talk about their books. Cromarty, famous to anyone familiar with the shipping forecast is situated on the Cromarty Firth in the north east coast of Scotland. The historic fishing village, boasting museums in the form of a thatched cottage to writer Hugh Miller and Cromarty Court House which re-enactment ancient trials.
It happens to be one of my most favourite places so I booked as soon as it was possible to do so.
For those who opt for the residential weekend, accommodation is in the Old Brewery with meals and generous portions of wine included. The weekend flew past, opening with a reception dinner which was followed by series of three hugely entertaining whodunits presented by the local drama society. I won’t give details –no spoilers here.
On Saturday I was lucky enough to be able to attend a workshop held by Shona McLean who-as I was able to proudly tell anyone who would listen- was in the same latin class as me at school. Ian Rankin chatted entertainingly and informatively to his editor about the publishing process and then there was an intriguing talk by Mary Ellis about her book, The Other Mrs Walker. The evening entertainment was dinner and a film. On Sunday, I found myself next to Professor Dame Sue Black who is a particular hero of mine, at breakfast, so star struck or what, it was a real privilege to chat to her about ‘the headless corpse,’ episode on Dan Snow’s History Hits. Sue was, in the course of the program, dubbed, much to her disgust by Dan Snow, as a national treasure. The episode concerned of course the investigation into a coffin at Wardlaw Mausoleum alleged to hold the body of Simon, The Fox, Lovat, the last man to be beheaded for treason at the Tower of London. Also, for Outlander fans the very real uncle of fictional character Jamie Fraser. The episode concluded that the body in the coffin was that of a thirty-year-old woman. Simon the Fox therefore has continued to be as wily in death as in life. Whilst it would appear his body lies in the Tower of London, many Fraser enthusiasts believe the wrong coffin was opened and that his body was returned to his highland seat as he wished and lies in one of the other coffins in the mausoleum.
Breakfast over it was a real privilege to listen to the updates on Rosmarkie Man and Prof Dame Sue Black talking about her one and only fictional book –All That Remains- I can’t wait to read it. The weekend closed with presentations my local authors and prize awards for a writing competition. An excellent weekend. Thoroughly recommend it!
E = MC2
Energy can neither be created or destroyed.
And so it is said that the Battle of Culloden is fought, year after year, on the same site, on the anniversary. Ghosts. Trapped forever in a moment. No wonder spirits remain. The Highlanders who fought at Culloden were fighting for their lives, their families, their future, their language and their culture. They lost. And in losing unleashed one of the most horrific periods in Scottish history. The repercussions for the survivors of the battle were brutal. No quarter was given to wounded soldiers. They were executed. No quarter was given to Jacobite sympathisers. They were executed. Men, women, children, the elderly, the infirm. Gaelic, the language of the Scots was outlawed, as was their tartan. The Battle of Culloden ended the Clan system in Scotland and heralded the beginning of the Highland Clearances. Now, ancestors of those who fought return, like salmon seeking their birth place, year on year from around the world, seeking they know not what, but compelled none the less. From the America’s, from Canada, from New Zealand and Australia. That is energy.
Strangely, by coincidence, I too have found myself at Culloden Battlefield on the 16thof April for the last three years. One of my earliest memories is of visiting the battlefield. I have visited the site frequently throughout my life and even now it is a place that never fails to draw me. I find it the most atmospheric place on earth. Second- Loch Ness, Highlands. Scotland. Third- Glencoe, Highlands, Scotland, Fourth-Grand Canyon, Arizona, USA. Not every day of course. But dark days, when clouds grey and black drift across the sky and only rare shafts of light break through, falling like ghostly ladders to the ground below. When the hills around the Moray Firth in the distance are sprinkled with snow and when sheets of sleet bite the skin and the beginnings of a gale begin to howl through the few trees which sprinkle the moor. On days like that, there is no other place on earth like the moor and it is easy to believe in ghosts and a lot more beside.
This year it was sunny and the ghosts, for me, were less evident. I had the particular pleasure of attending a talk by Inverness Library about a selection of ancient books they had discovered in their archives. The books, it appeared had been placed in boxes for disposal and had not been catalogued. When the library was being prepared for renovation the books were discovered and their importance realised. The catalogue of books are unlikely –as a result of their age and fragility to be generally available in the library but are available by appointment by contacting Inverness Library by telephone at 01463 236463 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
First hand testimony
Ref 368 The Book of Lamentations of Charles Anon 1746
Ref 2914 The Contrast Anon 1825
Politics and Propoganda
Ref 369 An Answer to the 2ndManifesto of the Pretender’s eldest son Britannicus 1745
Ref 370 Hereditary right not Indefeasible A True Scotchman 1745
Music, Plays and Poetry
Ref 63 The Rise and Progress of the Rebellion. D. Graham 1803
Ref 2571 The Pageant (10 plays) Anon 1939
A collection of sermons Various 1745
The Unexpected and the Unusual
385 Notes on the Swords from the Battlefield Lord Archibald Campbell 1894
The full catalogue of books is available on request from the library.
It was a real privilege to have an opportunity to see the books and listen to the presentation.
Question time at the close of the presentation became quite heated, perhaps surprisingly given that it related to ancient books, but the point was made emphatically that ‘fake news’
is no modern invention.
CRIME AT THE CASTLE GLAMIS CASTLE 24TH FEBRUARY 2018
‘Thou hast it now: King, Cawdor, Glamis!
All as the weird women promised,
And I fear Thou play’d most foully for’t.’
Blanquo, MacBeth, Shakespere.
What a venue. Congratulations to the organisers for choosing this fantastic location for a crime writing festival. The castle was closed to the public for the duration of the festival and as events were programmed throughout the day, with generous intervals, there were many opportunities to wander around the castle, indoors and outdoors-although there was a bitterly cold wind, and soak up the atmosphere.
Book signings in the Crypt were a perfect opportunity to mingle with the authors and buy some books- as usual I came home with a heavy suitcase. The courses and talks were excellent.
The anti-chamber to the castle crypt is called Duncan’s Hall, and is described as the site of the murder of King Duncan as narrated in MacBeth, by Shakespere. Whilst there are mixed views as to the veracity of the claim, the castle has no shortage of dark history.
Glamis Castle is the ancestral seat of the Earls of Strathmore.(Earls of Angus). First recordings of the castle’s turbulent past begins with the mysterious assignation of King Malcolm II of Alba at the site of the current castle in 1034. King James V was kidnapped as a young man by the 6thEarl of Angus. James, subsequently, perhaps in revenge charged the Earl’s widow of murdering her husband and plotting to kill the king. She was convicted of witchcraft and burnt at the stake in 1537. Her son, the 7thEarl was also sentenced to death although he was released on the death of the James V. Turbulent times. The castle was visited by Mary Queen of Scots, Cromwell’s forces, the Old Pretender, Government forces after Culloden, even becoming a military hospital during the First World War. The castle lays claim to several ghosts, the White Lady-the countess burned for witchcraft, the Grey Lady and even Scotland’s first black ghost-a servant child left to sit on a stool as punishment who was subsequently forgotten and froze to death. Earl Beardie –who played a hand of card with the devil and lost his soul and many more.
The Crime at the Castle Crime Writing Festival provided an excellent opportunity to attendees to visit a fantastic historic venue, listen to established crime writer’s talk about their books and inspiration- I particularly enjoyed chatting with Chris Brookmyre in the castle lounge, getting some one to one advice from Alex Grey, and catching up with my latin class school-mate S.G. McLean who writes intriguing historical crime. There was also a delicious lunch in the castle dining room.
Anyone attending the festival looking for inspiration to start their own writing adventure has really no excuse for not getting on with it!
13th February 2018 is the thirty eighth anniversary of the death of Marian Adam Rejewski, the Polish mathematician who cracked the Enigma code. The code used by the Nazi’s in the lead up to and during the Second World War.
My novel, The Cypher Bureau, is of course inspired by the life of Marian Adam Rejewski but I still find it extra-ordinary how little appears to be known about his achievements, certainly in the United Kingdom. Marian Rejewski and his colleagues Hendry Zygalski and Jerzy Rozycki were awarded an INEE Milestone award, an award given only to persons of good standing whose achievements have changed the world. The award was given post humously in 2014.
The academic world has long recognised the achievements of Rejewski and his colleagues. Why then are his achievements still not widely recognised in Britain?
There would appear to be a number of factors-
The nature of Rejewski’s work was secret. Had it been discovered by the Nazi’s that the Enigma code they were using was not secure then they would have stopped using the code immediately and the work carried out by the Allied cryptologists would have been wasted. All Allied personal involved with Enigma were sworn to secrecy. Indeed, I recall seeing an Octogenarian being interviewed not so terribly long ago about the work she had been involved in at Bletchley Park-Britain’s top secret decoding base, and she refused, very politely to give any information, citing The Official Secrets Act. Ten thousand people worked at Bletchley Park during the Second World War. The Polish Cypher Bureau constructed Enigma machines to their own design in a factory in Warsaw before the outbreak of the Second World War. Further machines were constructed in a factory in Paris during France’s occupation. It was an extra-ordinary achievement that the secret that the code had been broken did not come to the attention of the Nazi’s before the war ended. There is no evidence to suggest that they ever thought the code had been broken. Secrecy was the game of the Allied code breakers and they were good at it!
After the Second World War came The Cold War. Some of the most prominent English codebreakers died during the war or soon afterwards. Dilly Knox of lymphoma in 1943, Alan Turing of cyanide poisoning in 1954 and Alaistair Denniston aged 79 in 1961. They were not able to comment on the legacy. For the Poles, in Russian occupied Poland there would have been no incentive to provide information about their involvement in code breaking. Before leaving Britain to return to Poland, Marian Rejewski was advised that it would be prudent to keep a low profile.
Notwithstanding the above, I think it has been perhaps natural for the British historian to promote the work of Bletchley Park. Alan Turing was an extraordinary mathematician and has been credited with invention of the first computer. However, first to crack the Enigma code he was not. This crown was not claimed by Turing himself. It is those who came afterwards either through ignorance or carelessness.
Perhaps it is a form of nationalism to accredit someone of the same nationality where possible with a prestigious achievement- being Scottish, it is perfectly obvious to me that the Scots invented just about everything- Churchill himself said “Of all the small nations of the earth, perhaps only the ancient Greeks surpass the Scots in their contribution to mankind.”
A stop off in Paris on my way back to the Dordogne, South West France following my trip to London provided an opportunity to catch Burberry’s exhibition “Here We Are,” featuring the “British Way of Life.”
Visiting the Republique district of Paris for ten days after London and Hong Kong, the exhibition was held in the former premises of the newspaper “Liberation.” The exhibition, occupying three levels of the premises features works by over 30 major British photographers including Janette Beckman, Jane Bown, Brian Griffin, Dafydd Jones, Karen Knorr, Martin Parr, Charlie Phillips, Andy Sewell and Jo Spence.
The collection was co-curated by Lucy Kumara Moore, director of the London fashion and photography bookstore Claire de Rouen Books, Christopher Bailey, Burberry’s chief creative officer and photographer Alasdair McLellan.
The photographs offer a nostalgic look at British documentary photography which even today continue to inspire Bailey and his designs for the Burberry brand. Although Moore explains “What you see in the photographs is not really the way Britain is anymore.” The photographs document British style and society between World War II and 1986.
Alongside more recent photos of Burberry ad campaigns, the historical images show iconic British looks from various eras: working-class laborers wearing plaid jackets, equestrian riders in red jackets and tall boots, soldiers in uniforms, punk kids in suspenders, and socialites in gowns at decadent parties. The photographs begin in 1955 with a Teddy Girl an Edwardian-dressed rebel member of the 1950s girl gang the Teddy Girls, and end in 1986, with raucous scenes of a London nightclub shot by the street photographer Tom Wood. Moore says these years in particular are telling of postwar progress in Britain: They span the end of rationing, and the launch of the first mass-market home computer package.
The bare concrete walls and unfinished open space proved a perfect backdrop for the more urban photographs in the exhibition. The more colourful photos, particular those of soldiers in their dress uniforms were less at home against the grey background of the concrete walls. Burberrys own fashion display spanning the period of the exhibition had its own vibrant story to tell.
The exhibition, in addition to the photographs and fashion featured film reels of the occupants of a London tenement providing their very different accounts of how they spent their post war black and white days.
After wandering through the exhibition, it was up to the roof top terrace for some champagne and canapes. Even with grey cloud filled skies and a chilly wind there was no denying the views of the Sacre Coeur and Eiffel Tower were spectacular. Thank you Burberry.
It was an enormous privilege for me to visit the Jozef Pilsudski Institute in London. The Institute is housed in the Polish Social and Cultural Centre in King Street, Hammersmith which ironically I recognised immediately as a result of television interviews of the president following an outbreak of hate crimes against Polish citizens following the Brexit vote.
The building itself must be a haven for Poles living in London and those out with the city who are able to travel there. From the moment the doors close, shutting out the London street noise you have a sense of crossing a border and entering another country. Polish notices, the buzz of Polish voices from the bar and restaurant and a forceful rendition from a musical-first in English then Polish leave no doubt but that the institution is well used. A fountain in the reception area offers a peaceful respite for those who wish a little calm before going outside and facing the challenges that presents.
The London Josef Pidulski Institute is a museum dedicated to the memory of Polish General Josef Pidulski,who halted the Russian advance at the Battle of Warsaw in 1920. At that time rated the 18th most important battle ever. The work of the Institute includes collecting, archiving and examining documents concerning Poland’s most recent history. The Institute organises lectures, book presentations and exhibitions based around the life and times of Josef Pidulski. The Institute also presents the #Enigma Relay Project which is designed to explain the often overlooked part played by the Polish cryptanalysts in the race to break the Nazi German Enigma machine code.
I found my way to the rooms on the second floor. To visit the Jozef Pilsudski Institute was for me amazing. I was very impressed with the exhibits relating to Enigma especially the manner in which it had been chosen to present the achievements of the Polish mathematicians in breaking Enigma. The exhibition focused on the whole story, not the initial breaking of the Enigma code which has undoubtedly carried out by the Poles in 1932.
The exhibition, the #EnigmaRelay focusses on the group of individuals at the core of the Enigma code breaking story. Throughout the II World War. This begins with Marian Rejewski, Jerzy Rozycki and Henryk Zygalski as the mathematicians but also references among others Major Gwido Langer, Maksymilian Ciezki, Alan Turin, Captain Bertrand, Dilly Knox and Gordon Weschman.
One of the highlights of my visit was to see on display an Enigma machine constructed to Polish design in France whilst France was under German Occupation. The machine was hidden by the cryptologists at their base near Uzes in the South of France and was recovered by Marian Rejewski and Henryk Zyglaski after the 2nd World War.
The Institute is open Tuesdays 11am to 6pm and Thursdays 11am to 19pm and the first Saturday of every month 11am to 16pm. It is free.
I was chased of –very politely, early, from my visit as they were holding a private reception-I’m sure I’ll be back.