Enigma - Decipher Victory: The Polish Role in Helping the British Break the Enigma Code

03/19/2020 07:00 PM - 09:00 PM ET


History Society Event


  • Free


Duquesne University
Duquesne Univ, PA 15282
United States of America
Room Number: 4th Floor
Building Number: Gumberg Library


File:Enigma deszyfranci.jpgJoin us for this special program, reception and exhibition sponsored in partnership between Duquesne University, the Polish Cultural Council of Pittsburgh, and Britsburgh spotlighting early Polish successes in breaking the Enigma code, the German Military Command's encoded strategic messages, and the strong British-Polish collaboration before and during the War.


Many people are aware of the success of Alan Turing and other British codebreakers at Bletchley Park in breaking the German Enigma code, a vital breakthrough that is believed to have shortened the war by as much as two years, saving innumerable lives, and ultimately helping to secure Allied victory against the Nazis.  Less well known is the role of Polish mathematicians such as Marian Rejewski, Jerzy Rózycki and Henryk Zygalski (pictured here left to right, respectively), before and during the war, in cracking the code.  In the early 1930s, the Polish codebreakers actually achieved success in deciphering an early version of Enigma, which had been invented by a German engineer towards the end of the First World War.  Just before the outbreak of World War II in September 1939,  by which time the Germans had developed a more sophisticated version of Enigma, the Poles passed their knowledge on to their British allies.  This information played a crucial part in the ultimate success of the Bletchley codebreakers in breaking the now more complex Enigma code.  The strong British-Polish collaboration in deciphering Enigma extended into other aspects of the war, including Polish fighter pilots taking part in the Battle of Britain and Polish troops in the North African, Italian and Normandy campaigns and the battle for Berlin,


The evening's program consists of the opportunity to see the special exhibition, "Enigma-Decipher Victory", from the Republic of Poland on loan from the Embassy of Poland in Washington, DC in cooperation with the Polish Cultural Council, Pittsburgh and the Polish Cultural Institute, New York City. Kim Szczypinski of Duquesne University and Britsburgh's History Society will give an introductory talk about the history of British-Polish cooperation during the war.  Special guest Dr. Roman Sznajder, Professor of Mathematics and Graduate Program Coordinator in Applied and Computational Mathematics at Bowie State University, will give the main presentation on, "The Role of the Poles in Breaking the Enigma Code." 


In addition, guests will be able to view a sampling of World War II intelligence, propaganda, publications, and artifacts from the Gumberg Library's James F. Clarke Collection on display in the Library's first floor Archive.  In 1942, Clarke headed the Balkan section of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the predecessor of the CIA, and from 1943-1945 Clarke also directed the Balkan, Central, and South-East European sectons of the Office of War Information (OWI).  Stationed in Cairo for much of the war, Clarke's linguistic background was essential to his work in research, planning, and policy concerning Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union.


A reception and additional time to peruse both exhibitions will follow the talk.



7:00 - 7:05 p.m.:    Welcome, acknowledgments and introductions

7:05 - 7:15 p.m.:    Introductory talk by Kim Szczypinski of Duquesne University and Britsburgh highlighting Polish-British collaboration during World War II 

7:15 - 8:05 p.m.:    "The Role of the Poles in Breaking the Enigma Code" - presentation by Dr. Roman Sznajder of Bowie State University

8:05 - 8:30 p.m.:    Q & A and discussion 

8:30 - 9:00 p.m.:    Reception and time to view both  "Enigma - Decipher Victory" exhibition and "James F. Clarke Collection" WWII artifacts exhibit


Free and open to the public but to give us an idea of the number of participants via Britsburgh, please Register


Parking is available in Duquesne University's Visitor Parking Garage on Forbes Avenue.  Event rates may apply.  Take the garage elevator to the 8th Floor Campus level and proceed towards Locust St.; Gumberg Library is on the immediate right.  You will enter on the 4th Floor of the Library, where the Exhibition and program are being held.  On street parking in the area (along Fifth Avenue near the PPG Paints Arena and the side streets between Fifth and Forbes Avenues) is also available, as is very limited  public parking at meters (free after 6:00 p.m.) on campus.  Be careful not to park in a permit-only metered space!


The "Enigma - Decipher Victory" exhibition will be on view in Duquesne University's Gumberg Library March 17-27, 2020.  For more information about the exhibition and Enigma, see:  https://guides.library.duq.edu/enigma


For more information about this event, contact Kim Szczypinski of Britsburgh's History Society at: kimberly2859@msn.com.


Explore fascinating British-themed topics with the guidance of experts and enjoy the company and conversation of fellow enthusiasts as a member of one of Britsburgh Societies: Britsburgh Arts Society, the Britsburgh Beer Society, the Britsburgh History Society, the Britsburgh Literary Society and the Britsburgh Tea Society. If you are not already a member, I would like to invite you to consider becoming a Britsburgh Society member. To become a member, visit the Britsburgh membership page.




The "Enigma--Decipher Victory" exhibit is sponsored by





Neon CRM by Neon One

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