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.