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Enigma Timeline


Zdjęcie prezentujące wynalazcę Enigmy Artura Sherbiusa


Arthur Scherbius patents the Enigma encryption machine.


Enigma is used in the German Navy.
Zdjęcie prezentujące model Enigma 1.


Enigma is used in German land troops.
Kopia listu wysłanego do Profesora Krygowskiego przez Szefa Sztabu Głównego Wojska Polskiego zawierająca podziękowanie za zorganizowanie kursu szyfrów w 1929 roku

1929 January

a cryptographic course starts at the University of Poznan, among its participants are Marian Rejewski, Jerzy Różycki and Henryk Zygalski.
Zdjęcie prezentujące Zamek Cesarski w Poznaniu natomiast w głębi za Zamkiem ukazany jest budynek dawnej intendentury, w którym mieściła się poznańska filia Biura Szyfrów Wojska Polskiego, gdzie podjęli pracę przyszli pogromcy Enigmy.

1929 summer

after the cryptographic course ends, Jerzy Różycki and Henryk Zygalski start working in a branch of the Cipher Bureau in Poznan.

1930 summer

after returning from Göttingen in 1930, Marian Rejewski also starts working at the Cipher Bureau.
Zdjęcie prezentujące Pałac Saski w Warszawie.

1932 September

the team of the Poznań branch of the Cipher Office is transferred to Warsaw.
Zdjęcie prezentujące podpułkownika Maksymiliana Ciężkiego

1932 October

Maksymilian Ciężki entrusts the attack on the Enigma codes to Marian Rejewski.

1932 December

Marian Rejewski reconstructs the machine and breaks the first messages encrypted with Enigma.
Zdjęcie prezentujące maszynę Enigma zaprojektowaną przez Polaków, która miała łącznicę podłączoną w innymi miejscu niż w oryginalnym egzemplarzu.


the AVA company builds a dozen copies of Enigma, the Enigma message decryption starts full steam.
Grafika prezentująca cyklometr.


the Polish team builds a cyclometer – the first electromechanical device that supports decryption.
Grafika prezentująca wirniki Enigmy

1938 autumn

Germany introduces several new changes in the way Enigma is used and adds two new rotors.
Grafika prezentująca Bombę Rejewskiego.

1938 November

Marian Rejewski responds to the new challenge by constructing a “bomb”. At the same time, Henryk Zygalski designs the sheet method.

1939 January

English-French-Polish cryptographic conference in Paris. Poles defined by a British participant as “fools and ignorant”.
Zdjęcie tajnego ośrodka radiowywiadu w Pyrach pod Warszawą.

1939 July

second trilateral conference in Warsaw; Poles reveal to the future Allies their success in attacking the Enigma codes and provide complete knowledge of the methods used.
Zdjęcie pałacyku w Bletchley Park

1939 August

under the influence of news from Poland, the UK launches the recruitment process of mathematicians and an expansion of the cryptographic centre in Bletchley Park.
Zdjęcie prezentujące łamanie polskiego szlabanu granicznego, wkrótce po napadzie Niemiec na Polskę we wrześniu 1939 r.

1939 September

war breaks out, evacuation of the Cipher Bureau through Romania to France.


Zdjęcie prezentujące tajny ośrodek o kryptonimie Bruno pod Paryżem, gzie pułkownik Bertrand umieścił ekipę polskich kryptologów.

1939 October

as a result of political disputes, the team of cryptologists is subordinated to the French.

1939 autumn

the troubles of the British with the use of knowledge transferred by the Poles, the French refuse to send the Poles to help break the deadlock.
Grafika prezentująca płachty Zygalskiego będącymi arkuszami papieru z otworami w miejscach, w których szyfr Enigmy wykazywał specyficzną własność.

1940 January

Alan Turing brings to France the Zygalski sheets, made in the UK based on Polish instructions. On 15 January, Poles break the first Enigma message during the World War II.

1940 April

Polish and British teams effectively break Enigma codes during the Norwegian campaign.

1940 May

Germany changes the use of the Enigma before the attacks on Benelux and France – allied cryptologists temporarily blinded.

1940 June

evacuation of the Polish team to the south of France and further to North Africa. In the United Kingdom, John Herivel breaks the decryption crisis.
Zdjęcie prezentujące fragment urządzenia zwanego Bombą Turinga

1940 August

On the eve of the Battle of Britain, Bletchley Park receives the first copy of the Turing bomb, a development of the Rejewski bomb.

1940 September

decryptions of messages of the communications network of the Luftwaffe support the British in the crucial phase of the Battle of Britain.
Zdjęcie prezentujące pracowników ośrodka Cadix na którym widać polskich kryptologów.

1940 October

the French decide to transfer the Polish cryptologists to an unoccupied part of France and to organise a semi-conspiratorial cryptographic centre near the town of Uzes.

1941 spring

The British begin breaking the codes of German troops fighting in North Africa.
Zdjęcie prezentujące niemiecką łódź podwodną U-Boot U 36.

1941 April

thanks to documents obtained on board of a German ship near the coastline of Norway, the British break the code of the Enigma Kriegsmarine for the first time.

1941 May

the British domination over the Kriegsmarine codes strengthened by the documents found onboard the captured U-110 submarine.
Zdjęcie prezentujące statek Lamoricierre - na takim statku podczas podróży z dyżuru w Algierii w niewyjaśnionej katastrofie zginął Jerzy Różycki.

1942 January

Jerzy Różycki and two other members of the Polish team die in a sea catastrophe in the Mediterranean Sea.

1942 February

German submarine fleet launches a 4-rotor model of Enigma. The British lose the ability to break its codes; increasing losses of the Allies in the Battle of the Atlantic.

1942 November

in connection with the Allied invasion of North Africa, Germany occupies southern France. The Polish centre is abruptly liquidated and its staff awaits the possibility of evacuation from the occupied territory.

1942 December

the gain onboard of the submarine allows to break the deadlock in the decryption of the 4-rotor Enigma.


1943 February and March

Members of the Polish team try to cross the green border with Spain. A part of the team succeeds, but the group's commander, Lieutenant Colonel Langer and his deputy, Major Ciężki, fall into German hands as a result of betrayal of the French

1943 summer

Marian Rejewski and Henryk Zygalski, after their imprisoning in Spain, through Portugal and Gibraltar, enter the United Kingdom. They are not allowed to work in the centre, whose beginning were their own successes in attacking the Enigma code – until the end of the war they attack less significant German codes, especially hand-made Waffen SS codes.
Zdjęcie prezentujące amerykański model bomby, zmodyfikowany w stosunku do brytyjskiego modelu.

1943 summer

bombs designed in the United States enter into use, many times faster than the British. Thanks to their use, most of the Enigma codes, including the 4-rotor model, are broken quickly and efficiently.

1944 spring

Langer and Ciężki stay in the prison camp at Eisenberg castle in the present-day Czech Republic. Unexpectedly, a board of the German radio intelligent service appearsin, trying to determine the scale of the former Polish success in the struggle with Enigma. Polish officers mislead them, saving the Enigma's decryption for the Allies.
Zdjęcie prezentujące przystawkę Uhr ułatwiającą ustawienie łącznicy.

1944 summer

Germans begin to suspect the possibility of Enigma codes being broken and introduce new devices complicating its decryption, among others the “Uhr” and a variable-headlight (UKD). The experience and technical superiority of the Allies allow them to overcome new challenges; Enigma decryptions contribute to the success of landings in Normandy and the victories in battles in France.

1945 May

Langer and Ciężki barely avoid liberation from the camp by the Soviet Army. Liberated by Americans, they go to London, where they will have a cold reception.


Right after the end of World War II, the decryption of the Enigma, one of the greatest mysteries of the war, is transforming itself into one of the greatest secrets of the Cold War. The mathematical grounds of the attack on the codes of rotor machines elaborated by the Polish, are up-to-date and must remain a mystery.


demobilised Marian Rejewski returns to the country, where he has to lay to rest all his ambition to secure himself and his family. Henryk Zygalski stays in the UK, which does not recognise his Polish university diploma. To be able to teach mathematics in British schools, he must repeat his studies.


in the United States one of the bombs of World War II performs its last course; it was so far used to break Enigma encrypted messages from the East German police.


Marian Rejewski after his retirement writes memories from his pre-war work and deposits them in the Military Historical Institute. The single-sentence mention of Enigma breaking in the book of a Polish historian is accepted with extreme disbelief.


a number of British historians include in their work allusions to breaking Enigma and the role of Poles in this achievement. Due to the secret, their publications go unnoticed.
Zdjęcie prezentujące Gustava Bertranda zrobione po wojnie


retired French General Bertrand publishes memoirs in which he reveals both the fact of breaking Enigma and the role of the Polish.

1974 and later

and later – British authors in response to Bertrand's book publish a series of works containing a distorted image of the history of Enigma code breaking.
Zdjęcie fragmentu pomnika upamiętniającego poznańskich matematyków, którzy złamali kody Enigmy

1982 and later

the process of gradual disclosure of US and British archives for Enigma begins. Work presenting a balanced picture of its history begin to appear, beginning with Gordon Welchman's book The Hut Six Story.