Enigma was an extremely complicated German coding machine. Through the machine, the Germans were able to send encrypted messages without the allies ever being able to decode one. Cracking the machine could be the key to winning the war.
Desperate to develop an edge in the war, the allies started operation at Bletchley Park, in Buckinghamshire, U.K. This park contained all of the geniuses that the allies could accumulate. Here, they all worked tirelessly, with one singular purpose, to break Enigma.
The operation that took place at Bletchley Park was extremely secretive. Everyone who was recruited was sworn into secrecy. All of the codebreakers were forced to lie to their friends and, even, family. Many of them took this secret to their grave. Furthermore, to add to all of the secrecy surrounding this project, after the war Winston Churchill ordered the torching of Bletchley. The only reason that what occurred at Bletchley was made public was a result of a book a person wrote at their time at the park. Had that book not been written, what happened at Bletchley might be a secret to this day.
Cracking the code was a huge benefit for the allies. Breaking Enigma allowed the allied countries to intercept every German message. This allowed them to strategically pick and choose attacks to prevent and to launch attacks of their own. It was a major factor in the allies winning the war. Also, while no one knows for sure, it is speculated that the cracking of Enigma shortened the war by many years. Saving millions and millions of dollars, and countless lives.
The Benefits of Cracking the Code
Alan Turing was the person who was most responsible for cracking Enigma. Apart from being a master code cracker, Turing was also a brilliant mathematician that the English government was eager to recruit. It turned out that getting Turing to bye on to the cracking of Enigma was worth it. His unorthodox methods cracked enigma and shortened the war by years. However, Turing's time at Bletchley did not start with him being the uber-successful man that he is known as today. His unorthodox methods were looked down upon. It took the recognition of one of his colleagues for his genius to be realized. From there, the rest is history
Alan Turing at Bletchley
"The Bombe" is the title of the machine that Alan Turing created. The purpose of this machine was simple, to be able to decode each message that the Germans sent out. By plugging a few settings into the machine, it was able to decrypt Enigma. Without Turing's brilliant invention of the Bombe, the allies would have not been able to crack Enigma and the war would have dragged on for many more years.
Hugh Alexander worked alongside Alan Turing and played a big part in cracking Enigma. Like Turing, Alexander was a great mathematician. He differed from Turing in the fact that he was a world chess champion and master. His logical mind was a key factor in building the Bombe and helping solve the puzzle that was Enigma. Alexander and Alan Turing had many squabbles and arguments, but in the end, they were great friends.
The Chess Champion
John Cairncross arrived at Bletchley in 1942. Close to his arrival, the leader of the operation suspected him of being a spy. The suspicion turned out to be true and Cairncross smuggled many documents out of the facility. However, since the security was so high at Bletchley, it is speculated that the documents for Cairncross to take were planted. In 1952, John Cairncross finally admitted to spying.
Stewart Menzies was the head of MI6 during the war. Although not a code breaker himself, Menzies was crucial to the breaking of the Enigma code. He was the person who was in charge of the operation at Bletchley and organized everything. He was responsible for recruiting code breakers and making sure everything ran smoothly. Also, Menzies created a system that
dictated when the British government acted on information they decoded from Enigma.
Orginally recruited for clerical work, Joan Clarke proved to be much more valuable. Since she was the only women, many people were skeptical of her. However, the brilliant mathematician provided a calming presence that was proven very helpful. Since she was so useful, a pay raise was arranged and she gained the new title of "linguist," despite her only knowing English. Overall, she was a very useful part of the code breaking team.
The operation that occurred at Bletchley was of great importance and value. The goal of it, cracking the Enigma code, could spell out the end of the war. The British government recruited all of the best mathematicians, scientists, linguists, and more. All with the goal of breaking the code. With an operation of this magnitude, there was great secrecy. No one who worked at Bletchley could breathe a word about what they truly did. Overall, the operation at Bletchley was complex, secretive and amazing. What happened at Bletchley ended the war.
Enigma Code Breaking
The presentation shares a history of the operations at Bletchley and the cracking of the Enigma code machine.