Bletchley Park, where the British broke the Enigma during WW2, is a must-see for everybody interested in crypto history. Last week, a new exhibition opened – in the presence of His Royal Highness Prince Edward.

If you’re still consulting the program of your local movie theater, please note: my blog post from yesterday about the alleged David Kahn film was an April fool’s joke. This film doesn’t exist. And David Kahn is not the father of soccer player Oliver Kahn – though both represent world-class in their respective field of activity.


Marek Grajek meets Prince Edward

Speaking of April fool’s jokes, here is another one: my Polish friend Marek Grajek recently met Prince Edward, the cousin of Queen Elizabeth II, for a talk about the breaking of the Enigma in WW2. Here’s an (extremely well-made) photomontage Marek provided me to support his joke:


Right behind Prince Edward, Dermot Turing, the nephew of Alan Turing, can be seen. Isn’t this funny?

Joking apart, this story is, of course, not an April fool’s prank, and the photograph is real, too. In fact, at Bletchley Park, the place where the British broke the Enigma in WW2 and which is today a museum, a new permanent exhibition has opened. This exhibition tells the story of the machines that were invented by Polish and British codebreakers in order to solve Enigma messages. More information about the exhibition is available here. The Polish Embassy in the UK has posted a report and a number of photographs about the opening on FaceBook (thanks to Jerry McCarthy for the hint).

The new exhibition was inaugurated by Prince Edward. It’s not the first time that a member of the Royal Family visits Bletchley Park.


All four Enigma breaking machines alive again

The first Enigma breaking machine was the Cyclometer, built by Polish mathematician Marian Rejewski in 1934. Jerry McCarthy created a rebuild of this machine (the original is lost).


Later, Rejewski and his two fellow mathematicians built the Bomba, another Enigma breaking device:


Marek Grajek, a Polish Enigma expert, created a rebuild of this machine, …


… which is now on display at the Bletchley Park Museum. The original Bomba is lost, Marek’s rebuild is the first of its kind. So, Prince Edward quite rightly thanked Marek when the two met at the exhibition opening.

Apart from the Cyclometer and the Bomba, two more Enigma breaking machines existed: the British Bombe …


… (also known as Turing-Welshman Bombe) and the US Bombe …


… (also known as Desch Bombe (photo: NSA)). While the Desch Bombe shown at the NSA Museum near Washington is an original, no copy of the Turing-Welshman Bombe has survived. However, the people at Bletchley Park did a very good job in constructing a rebuild, which is now on display in their museum.

Meanwhile, all four Enigma breaking machines exist as real objects again (three as rebuilds, one as original). Two of them (the Bomba and the Turing-Welshman Bombe) are on display at Bletchley Park. While the Turing-Welshman Bombe has been there for over a decade, the Bomba exhibit was set up as a part of the new exhibition.

I’m looking forward to seeing the new exhibition at Bletchley Park when I visit the museum next time.

Further reading: Introducing my Cryptologic Travel Guide


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Kommentare (4)

  1. #1 Ralf Bülow
    4. April 2018

    Harrumph… the gentleman opening the exhibition (and standing in front of Dermot Turing) is not Prince Philip but HRH Prince Edward, Duke of Kent.

  2. #2 Klaus Schmeh
    4. April 2018

    @Ralf: You’re right, I corrected it. Sorry for being so poorly informed about the British royals.

  3. #3 Jerry McCarthy
    England, Europa
    4. April 2018

    Actually, nobody refers to him as “Prince Edward”, as they would cause confusion with one of the Queen’s and Prince Phillips’s sons. He is just the “Duke of Kent”. Standing next to Dermot Turing (that is, on his left side) is the Polish Ambassador to the U.K. Arkady Rzegocki.

  4. #4 Jerry McCarthy
    England, Europa
    4. April 2018

    BTW, “Welshman” is written “Welchman”.