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Enigma, deciphered victory
3 July 2011 - 15 September 2011

A great new exhibition about the groundbreaking work of the Poles, when breaking the Enigma codes during WW-II, will be in The Netherlands for 2½ month this summer. The title of the exhibition is Enigma, de overwinning ontcijferd, Polen in dienst van Europa (Enigma, Deciphered Victory. Poland serving Europe). The exhibition was previously on display in Poland, Belgium and at Bletchley Park (UK). It is now the main attraction at the General Maczek Museum in Breda (Netherlands). Open every 2nd and 4th Sunday of each month. First opening day: 3 July 2011.

The Enigma machine is commonly known for the important role it played during WW-II. It was the major cipher machine of the German forces and its codes were broken by the British (and later the Americans) for the majority of the war. To express its highly secret nature, intelligence derrived from broken Enigma messages was called Ultra and had to be protected at any price. Historians now think that breaking the Enigma codes has shortened the war by two years.

Not many people know however, that breaking the Enigma codes would have been far more difficult, if not impossible, had it not been for the Poles. Three young brilliant mathematicians, Marian Rejewski, Jerzy Rozycki and Henryk Zygalski, managed to break the Enigma codes around 1932, long before the British did.

A few weeks before the outbreak of WW-II, they organized a meeting in Pyry (Poland) and gave up their secrets by sharing their knowledge with the French and the British secret services. Five weeks later England was at war with Germany.
Picture of Marian Rejewski during WWII

Crypto Museum has been asked to supply an Enigma machine and some other goodies for the exhibition, and we were only too happy to help them out. Although over 20,000 Enigma machines were built for the German War machine, most machines were lost over time, as they either went to the bottom of the ocean, or were destroyed by retreating troups, as per Hitler's instructions.

Also on display will be the so-called Fialka; the Polish version of a Russian cipher machine that was inspired by the Enigma. It was built shortly after WW-II and demonstrates the fact that the Russians had learned a lot from the Enigma machine and its shortcomings during the war.

Although Fialka machines have been used well into the 1990s, most of them were destroyed in recent years, making this machine a very rare collector's item. The image on the right shows a first impression of the exhibition. In the display case at the front are the Enigma and Fialka.
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The exhibition is open from 3 July 2011 to 15 September during the normal opening hours of the museum: every 2nd and 4th Sunday of each month, between 14:00 and 17:00. It is also open on the first day of the exhibition: 3 July 2011. On some days, people from the Crypto Museum will be available for a talk or a lecture (see below). Usually we will give three talks of 45 min each. The General Maczek Museum is located on the Trip van Zoudtlandtkazerne, De La Reyweg 95, 4818 BA Breda. A valid ID (passport or driver's licence) is required in order to get admission.

Sceduled lectures
  • Sunday 3 July 2011
  • Sunday 14 August 2011
  • Sunday 28 August 2011
  • Sunday 11 September 2011
Further information
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Crypto Museum. Last changed: Saturday, 08 December 2012 - 12:56 CET.
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