The chronicles say that the deciphering of the Enigma machine codes used by the German army brought forward the end of World War II. at least two years and saved the world from even greater tragedy by avoiding millions of additional deaths.
Alan Turing is considered one of the “fathers” of computer science for his contributions to the first digital programmable electronic computers; to the theoretical advances in Artificial Intelligence; the introduction of the concept of Hypercomputing; the Turing machine and a few other advances in this genius of mathematics.
He is also regarded as a war hero (although the UK government was responsible for his untimely death) because his contribution directing the Naval Enigma section of Bletchley Park were key to ending deciphering Nazi codes in World War II and in particular FISH teletype encoders and Enigma machines.
Enigma machines, the world on the ropes
These rotor machines allowed encrypting and decrypting messages and were used by all the German armed forces since the late 1920s and also by the rebel side during the Spanish Civil War with about twenty machines sold by Hitler to Franco for secret communication with their general.
The British team led by Turing was definitive to decipher the operation of the Enigma machines, but before other specialists across Europe (Poles, French or Spanish) had already worked against this infernal machine. One of them was the Polish cryptologist Marian Rejewski, another one of those little recognized geniuses, but who was one of the first precursors of the machine known as “Bombe” created by Turing.
Now, a Cambridge engineering student has built a fully functional replica of a Polish cyclometer from the 1930s created by Rejewski. The replica has taken more than a year to complete and has had the generous funds of King’s College, in a project of recognition and link between the Polish specialist and Alan Turing who studied and worked at the same University.
As far as is known, this Rejewski machine was the first hardware-based electromechanical cyclometer that worked before World War II. The original machines were destroyed in 1939 to prevent them from falling into the hands of the German invaders.
“The successes at Bletchley Park are well known in the UK and, although the Polish contribution is appreciated, I think its exact scope and meaning are not widely recognized”, explained the creator of the project. “Investigating Rejewski and his colleagues, I wanted to find out more about their efforts, and the more I looked, the more interesting the story became: it’s remarkable how advanced the Poles were in their understanding of Enigma machines compared to the British in 1939 ″.
In fact, the Poles were the first to crack the Enigma code before the start of the great war, using various systems, complicated high-level mathematical methods and specially designed machines. “Their work and knowledge proved to be incalculable, and laid the foundation for the Allies’ subsequent success in the team led by Turing at Bletchley Park”, they assure from Cambridge.