The Enigma Cipher Centre opens in Poznań

The original German-built cypher machine is included in the Enigma Cypher Centre exhibition, which has been opened in Poznan. The visitors to the CSE can see the original German coding machine Enigma borrowed from the Kołobrzeg Polish Arms Museum.

The building designated to host Enigma Cypher Centre has just reached the final stage of intense renovation works. This special place is located in the heart of Poznan at the intersection of St Martin and Kosciuszko Streets. In this very place, the original Polish Army main Cipher Office was used to operate. Marian Rajewski, Jerzy Rozycki and Henryk Zygalski, young mathematicians who contributed to the code-breaking of the famous German encryption machine once worked there.

Piotr Bojarski, the head of the Enigma Cypher Center, a new division of the Poznań Heritage Center, told the Polish Press Agency (Polska Agencja Prasowa, PAP): “We are not going to be like other museums. During the exhibition tour our visitors will be invited to participate in some intellectual challenges, prepared in the modern and multimedia-rich way designed by the Cracow-based, ‘New Amsterdam’ company”. Bojarski has also revealed the company is well experienced in the preparation of this type of exhibition, for example, they have helped to create, among others, the World War II Museum in Gdansk.

The exhibition scenario was completed last year, and now the work concentrates on the narrative, visual and meritorious details for individual exhibition stands. Bojarski made it clear all works are well advanced and close to completion. The new Poznan attraction is to be a combination of three main topics: the world history of cyphers, the story of Enigma breaking by the University of Poznan graduates and the ongoing IT and cypher revolution, which is the natural continuation and based on the war-time cryptologist’s achievements. All visitors will be offered audio guides in Polish, English, German and Russian as well as special sightseeing paths designed for the benefit of guests with disabilities.

In more detail, the first part of the exhibition presents the story of the information encryption development throughout the ages, from antiquity up to WW2, with details of the most commonly used cypher methods. Visitors, if they wish, could try the art of encryption themselves in the small workshop environments.

“The second part is dedicated to the history of breaking the encryption of the famous German cypher machine. Unprecedented achievements of Polish students of the University of Poznan are emphasized. In particular, the work on technology designed and applied for breaking the Enigma code and the following work of the French, British and American cryptologists that contributed to the breaking the Nazi’s cyphers encryption” – Bojarski said. “The third part will be connected to our times showing how the development of computer science and digital technology is indebted to the efforts and achievements of WW2 cryptologists.” – he added.

Bojarski also said the German encryption machine on display “will be an element of the whole story, but not its centre”. He also pointed out the exhibition focuses on the history of the incredible intellectual success of Poznan cryptologists, which contributed to the victory of the Allies over the Third Reich. Visitors will learn about Polish inventions that helped decode the information sent by the Germans via Enigma, such as Zygalski’s sheet and Rajewski’s bomb. Bojarski admitted that efforts are focused now to obtain as a temporary deposit the original copy of the encryption machine for the exhibition. “Due to the security of the planned solution – the exhibit has its value – we will not reveal where we want to obtain the Enigma from. But I can assure you there is a good chance this operation will be successful and the exhibition will present the mechanisms of this original encryption in a modern way.” The exhibition will also include artefacts obtained from the Polish cryptologist families such as letters, photos, and small personal items. The most interesting objects will be selected and acquired by the Center. The CSE work is planned to go beyond the exhibition and will be continued afterwards.

“An important element of the Center will be a media library, a collection of digital and hardware copies of material including books devoted to the Polish cryptologist works for breaking Enigma encryption. It will be available to study separately from the exhibition.  CSE will support educational and cultural projects related to the subject of cyphers, mathematics and computer science “- he said. The centre is preparing for online educational activities planned to be launched in September with the start of a new school year. Work is underway on the website, addressing the potential guests and people interested in the subject matter presented at the CSE. Piotr Bojarski also confirmed the CSE opening date for June this year.

The Enigma Cypher Center is a new division of the Poznan Heritage Center, a municipal cultural institution that manages, among others, the Poznan’s Gate and The Royal-Imperial Route. The main investors are the city of Poznan and the Center is being built as a part of the Wielkopolska Regional Operational Program.

Jolanta Pitera based on an article by Rafal Pogrzebny/ rpo/mok/

Pictures: British Poles

 

 

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