FIRST ENIGMA DECIPHERS (Illustration) World War II Biographies Film Social Studies World History

German Enigma operators sent their messages, via Morse Code, in groups of five letters. Polish cryptologists were able to intercept and understand the encrypted messages until shortly before World War II began in 1939. This photo, online via the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, depicts an intercepted Enigma-transmitted message:  “A typical Enigma intercept from the Bletchley Park operation in England. These messages were transmitted in Morse code as groups of five letters, which were easily intercepted - but were impossible to understand without sophisticated decryption. (Photo courtesy Dr. David Hamer).” Click on the image for a much-better view.


Within two weeks after Hitler came to power, in 1933, Polish deciphering team members were regularly reading German Enigma messages.  

However ... in 1938 ... the Poles had a major setback.  To make their Enigma machines more secure, the Germans modified Enigma, adding two more rotors.  Now the code was even more difficult to break.

This change came exactly at the wrong time for Poland.  

While the Poles had a black hole in their intelligence-gathering, Hitler was building his troops along the German-Polish border.  

Concerned about what was coming next, the Polish code breakers met with French and British code breakers in Paris.  Initially, everyone was suspicious of everyone else.

As worries about war intensified, however, the French and British code breakers had another meeting with Rejewski and his colleagues.  Their discussions took place in Kabackie Lasy, near the village of Pyry, south of Warsaw.  

This time, not only did people open up, the Brits and Frenchmen were stunned to see the progress the Poles had made. The men agreed to work together.        

By 1939, the British team was helmed by Colonel Stewart Menzies. He pledged to work with the Poles.  He was enormously impressed by what the Poles had already accomplished.

In August of 1939, Gustave Bertrand  - Menzies’ French counterpart - arrived at Victoria Station in London.  In his briefcase was a copy of the Polish Engima machine.

He was just in time.  Two weeks later, World War II broke out.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: Dec 31, 2014

Updated Last Revision: Jun 02, 2016

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"FIRST ENIGMA DECIPHERS" AwesomeStories.com. Dec 31, 2014. Jan 26, 2020.
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