What is an Enigma? Enigma “means a mystery” (Guynn).
Although there are several alternative meanings, to the Germans this meant a thin line between victory and defeat. During World War II the allies not only intercepted encrypted messages, they broke them but not without the help of A.M. Turing.
“In the early years of World War II,” (Sales), the airways in Poland were flooded with coded messages that created confusion with the “cryptanalyst working in the cipher bureau” (Maziakowski).
Over a several years over Poland received thousands of messages but still hadn’t any luck.
In 1930 they had found the source of their problem. Germany had hired, “Hans Schmidt, who invented the enigma machine”, (Sales).
This machine enabled Germany to send messages effortlessly with the security of knowing the codes could not be broken. Initially there was only one machine that was to be used as a public machine, but soon the German military contracted Schmidt to build a machine that the German Military could only use. It wasn’t until 1932 that “the enigma code was broken by Marian Rejewski” (Maziakowski) that Poland started to feel the fear of an oncoming invasion by Germany. Without the knowledge of the break in security, Germany sent out a machine to every military outpost in preparations for war. The polish government then listened closely to the airways, trying to pick up any information they could. They sent spies out to intercept messages in hopes of learning more about their neighbor’s plans.
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It was only by chance that the polish government was able to break the enigma code the first time. A man working at the Head Quarters in Berlin contacted a French operative in hopes of exchanging sensitive information for money. The French agreed and after exchanging money and information several times they found it of little use and then forwarded it to the Polish who you might say found the Holy Grail of information. Nearing the end of the exchanges between the French operative and the inside man, there was a particular document that was passed, its value would cost the French one hundred thousands dollars, an equivalent of 1 million dollars in today’s market, for a complete diagram of the enigma machine. This did little to help France and they once again sent the information right to the Poles. With this “Marian Rejewski” to “mathematically determine the wiring of one of the three routers” (Maziakowski).
He next used the diagram to invent a machine he called a “bombe”. This machine would take the two keys that were repeated at the first of each transmission and enter them into the machine; the machine would then use those to determine the day key which would enable them to decode every message sent that day. This was great for a while, but they soon found that they were to be invaded. The Polish government then decided to pass everything that they had learned on to the allies in hopes that they could use this information to a far greater need than they themselves had.
With the help of one man and an entire government division the allies broke through the enigma code after the black out which caused the Poles to fall to the Germans. Shortly after receiving the information from Poland, Great-Britain along with the rest of the allies set up a division in London called ULTRA. It was to be located at Bletchley Park and be named Project X. Only those who had clearance to top-secret information were privileged with this information. Ultra consisted of the most intellectual of people. Most were mathematicians or cryptanalyst, but there were those who were cross-word puzzle fanatics or the chess grandmasters who made their contributions, but there was one person who stood out from the crowd. “Alan Matheson Turing was an honorable man”(Hodges) who fit a profile unlike most their. He was seen most of the time hair messed up, cloths wrinkled and eyes always hidden beneath intercepts. Only after a few weeks of work, Turing had found a chink the in the Germans seamlessly invisible armor. They would send out a weather report every morning and every evening and would always comprise of the same words. Turing caught on to this quickly and took advantage of it. He would start the day with these intercepts and would spend all day cracking them and then that evening he would have the day key and could decrypt the messages, but he sought out to find a faster way as they always seemed to be a day behind. The Polish had the idea when they started using the “Bombe”. Turing decided he would modify the “bombe” they already had to suit his needs. He took it and transformed it to go through each possibility and search for the day key based on what words people might think the enciphered text might be.
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This started a chain-reaction which caused the entire German offensive to crumble into ashes. Ultra and Turing had done what most deemed impossible.
From before the war till the end, the enigma code remained a significant resource for the allies. A.m. Turing was a great mathematician who “we owe a great debt”(Hodges), and as for the Polish will always be remembered for their early efforts which lead to the German Demise.