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He contributed to the Allies’ victory over Hitler more than all armies.
Jan Nowak- Jeziorański

26Marian Adam Rejewski was born on 16 August 1905 in city of Bydgoszcz at the time named Bromberg. With his father Joseph and mother Matilda maiden name Thoms lived in apartment house at Wileńska 6 street. In 1912 he started education in primary school with initial teaching, then at the Fryderyk Wilhelm Royal Gymnasium and from 1920 at Classical Gymnasium in Bydgoszcz. In 1923 he passed high school diploma after which he began studying Mathematics and Natural Sciences at the University of Poznan. On 1 March 1929 he received a master’s degree in philosophy.

Shortly before graduation Rejewski was sent by Zdzislaw Krygowski to a cryptology course organized by the Cipher Bureau, which he interrupted deciding to go to Göttingen for internship. After a year he came back from Germany and began work as an assistant at University of Poznan and continued course in the Cipher Bureau1W. Kozaczuk, W kręgu enigmy, Warszawa 1979, s. 36-42.. On 1 September 1932, he joined the General Staff’s Cipher Bureau in Warsaw. A few months later Rejewski managed to break the Enigma machine cipher. He, for the very first time, used a method of permutation instead of previously used statistical and linguistic methods. He has also developed a mathematical model of the machine, based on which it was later copied by the employees of AVA2.2In the radio engineering factory of AVA Company, there worked radio amateurs Ludomir and Leonard Danielewiczowie TPAV, Antonii Palluth TPVA. The combination of their call signs created the name AVA. W. Kozaczuk, op. cit., s. 73-74.. A contribution to the work on breaking the cipher also brought information about construction of the machine and the principles of its use, provided to the Poles by French intelligence3L. Gralewski, Złamanie enigmy. Historia Mariana Rejewskiego, Toruń 2006, s. 60-62..

The end of year 1932 was not an end or works on the german Enigma. With the appearance of improved encryption procedures new decryption methods were created. Since 1933, the three cryptologists: Rejewski, Zygalski and Rozycki started to work on the discovery of daily keys.

In the second half of the 30s, when the situation on the international arena became more and more tense it was decided to transfer persons responsible for the decryption of german ciphers to a secret facility in Pyry located in the Kabaty Woods4Ibidem, s. 88. . Intelligence was being effectively captured there until 15 September 1938, when the Germans introduced new rules of encryption and methods developed by Polish cryptologists became useless5M. Rejewski, Matematyczne podstawy rozwiązania niemieckiego szyfru maszynowego „Enigma” [w:] W. Kozaczuk, op. cit., s. 388.. Therefore, they’ve started to work on a new ways of decryption and yet in the autumn of 1938 Rejewski’s “Bomba” and Zygalski’s „Sheet” have been created6L. Gralewski, op. cit., s. 97- 106..

For breaking the Enigma code, in 1938 the Polish President awarded Rejewski with a Gold Cross of Merit and a cash prize of 1500 zł7Z. J. Kapera, Marian Rejewski. Pogromca Enigmy, Kraków-Mogilany 2005, s. 50. . The 30s are also a time of changes in private life of the cryptologist. In 1934 he married Irene Lewandowska from Bydgoszcz, with whom he settled in Warsaw at General Joseph Zajączek 2 street. Irena returned to Bydgoszcz, where at Dworcowa 10/2 street at her parents house she gave birth to two children. On 22 June 1936 son Andrzej Zygmunt was born then on 16 February 1939 daughter Janina Maria8H. Sowińska, Gdy patrzę na stare fotografie. Geniusz z Wileńskiej, „Gazeta Pomorska” 29.09.2000..

Shortly before the beginning of World War II, in Pyry near Warsaw a meeting between the executives of Cipher Bureau and workers of radio-communication intelligence services of France and Great Britain was held. It was attended by Gustave Bertrand and Henri Braquenie representing France as well as Alastair Denniston, Alfred Dilly Knox, Humphrey Sandwith representing Great Britain. The meeting was conducted by Poles, Col. Gwidon Karol Langer and Col. Stefan Mayer9Ibidem, s. 110.. Marian Rejewski also participated in this event what was noted in his written memories „At this meeting we’ve told everything we knew, and we’ve showed everything we had to show (…). From our guests we have not learned anything. English nor French could not defeat first difficulties, they didn’t have rotors connected, and had no methods at all”10M. Rejewski, Jak matematycy polscy rozszyfrowali enigmę, „Wiadomości Matematyczne 1980, t. XXII, s. 26. . The words of Rejewski referred to the meeting’s demonstration of all major developments, including in particular the copy of military Enigma, “Bomba” and “Sheet”11L. Gralewski, op. cit., s. 110..

With the outbreak of the World War II, the Polish cryptologists had to leave Warsaw. At the night from 17 to 18 September they’ve crossed the Polish-Romanian border, and a week later they were already in Paris. Rejewski’s wife and their two children remained in Warsaw12Z. J. Kapera, op. cit., s. 54..

In France, the Poles were sent to work in the Paris suburban center PC “Bruno” under the authority of Major G. Bertrand. On 17 January 1940, the Polish cryptologists achieved a first success, which was a decryption of codes dating back to October 1939. This meant that the Germans have not changed the system after the outbreak of the War. During the French campaign the cryptologists managed to decrypt 5084 messages, however it did not protect the French from defeat and occupation of the state by the German army13Ibidem, s. 56..

The aggravating situation forced the Polish cryptologists to a next evacuation. They went to south of France, from where they were transported by aircrafts to Algiers. After nearly four months cryptologists again found themselves in France, in the demilitarized zone and started working in a secret center PC “Cadix” near Uzes14L. Gralewski, op. cit., s. 117.. In this place they worked, among others, on Wermacht radiograms associated with the Balkan campaign and telegrams from Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. Under the influence of information about upcoming German troops reaching the center it has been decided to close it. Rejewski and Zygalski were evacuated from France in November 1942 and in January 1943 they’ve reached Spain, crossing mountain border in the Pyrenees. Immediately after arriving they were arrested. After a few months they were released thanks to the efforts of the Polish Red Cross. By train they came to Portugal, from there to Gibraltar and on 2 August they flew by plane to England.

After incorporation to the Polish Armed Forces in London Rejewski and Zygalski were assigned to the Battalion of Communications of the Commander in Cheef’s Staff, the “N” section (Germany) under the command of Lt.-Col. Tadeusz Lisicki15S. Strumph-Wojtkiewicz, Sekret enigmy, Warszawa 1978, s. 141.. Results of their work were successfully used by cryptologists of Bletchley Park, for which its members have received a letter of commendation from the British liaison officer Wilfred Dunderdale. In the following months of 1943, Polish cryptologists were able to decrypt 640 messages included in captured German cryptograms. In last months of work Rejewski was sent to the “R” section, associated with breaking Soviet codes. On 9 July 1944 the British resigned from the cooperation with the Polish cryptologists on the German ciphers.

After the end of War, Rejewski went to Scotland. He did not take the proposal to settle down in England and join the Polish Resettlement Corps, but decided to return to his wife and children living in Bydgoszcz. He came to Poland on 20 November 194616Z. J. Kapera, op. cit., s. 68..

During the war, Irena Rejewska with two children and a babysitter Miecia Bławat lived in Warsaw. After the end of the Warsaw Uprising they settled in the village Reczul under Skierniewice and in 1945 returned to Bydgoszcz to the Dworcowa 10 street. Shortly after that the eleven year old son, Andrzej died from Poliomyelitis17L. Gralewski, op. cit., s. 123-127.. To provide for the family Rejewski had to find a job quickly. He was taking one secondary position after another in Bydgoszcz companies.

Immediately after returning to Poland security officers took interest in him, however they had not charged him with espionage, as in case of many Polish officers and soldiers. Enigma matter was covered with strict secrecy, not only in England but also in the countries of the Eastern Bloc and most likely it’s what saved the cryptologist from repressions of the Communist terror18Ibidem, s. 126.. As shown by the documents in a folder called “cryptologist”, officers did not know how significant during the war the work of Marian Rejewski was and treated him more as a secondary employee of intelligence19H. Sowińska, Teczka figuranta,, [dostęp: 07.05.15]. This does not mean however, that his activity before 1945 had no effect on further years of his life. Security Office carefully cared that Rejewski, despite a higher education, did not take any managerial positions. On 30 April 1950, he received a letter of termination from the “Polish Cable” company and over the next two years he worked at the National Measurement Company. The last work place of Rejewski was Voivodeship Union of Worker Cooperatives, where he worked till early retirement.

Until 1958, Marian Rejewski was being watched the Security Office. Secret associates leading the “cryptologist” case were interrogating his family, friends and neighbors, as well as checking his correspondence. However, nothing indicated the “espionage activity” of Rejewski, therefore on 12 June 1958 his file was sent to the archive20Z. J. Kapera, op. cit., s. 72. . The final note states: “During the course of surveillance it has not been determined that the figurehead practiced any hostile activity in relation to the Polish People’s Republic. Also the contacts maintained by him and current work place do not give any foundations for the thesis justifying his possible links with the intelligence”21H. Sowińska, Teczka figuranta….

The last entry regarding change of the place of residence, appeared in 1969, what proves that the Rejewski was still observed by the security officers22Ibidem.. Materials stored in the file “cryptologist”, revealed by Gazeta Pomorska, include information from the years of 1948-1969, which which consist of tip-offs, copies of letters, CV, diplomas and certificates. The file also contained information about his even temper, lack of bad habits and tendency to scandals23Ibidem..

In 1967 Rejewski has been receiving disability pension due to a kidney disease. At the same time he passed to the Military Historical Institute his written memories, in which he revealed the secret of his work on Enigma, what surprisingly did not rise particular interest of the historians24Ibidem.. About the fact that the Poles as the first broke the Enigma code already a month earlier informed Lt. Col. Wladyslaw Kozaczuk in his book “Bitwa o tajemnicę” (“Battle for Secrets”), however it did not give the names of polish cryptologists. Two years after he started receiving pension Rejewski with his wife and daughter moved from Bydgoszcz to Warsaw25Z. J. Kapera, op. cit., s. 74..

The names of the Poles yet over the years remained unknown, what has been changed in the 1973 by the appearance of a book called “Enigma: the Greatest Enigma of the War of 1939–1945”, by Bertrand. In this book, as well as in Kozaczuk book, names of the cryptologists have not been given, only an information about their Polish nationality26H. Sowińska, Teczka figuranta…. This publication, however, raised great interest of a Warsaw journalist who presented it on a pages of certain newspaper and began searching for Polish conquerors of the Enigma. At the journalist’s call responded Marian Rejewski, indicating that he and his two colleagues are the Polish cryptologists, that Bertrand wrote about27Z. J. Kapera, op. cit., s. 76.

Unknown so far in the Western countries the names of cryptologists appeared for the very first time in published in 1974 in “The New York Times Book Review” a review of “The Ultra Secret” book. In the Polish Institute and the gen. Sikorski Museum, in Jozef Pilsudski Institute in London as well as in private collections a number of source materials have been found, confirming achievements of the Polish cryptologists. Knowledge about them was popularized by the interviews given by Rejewski and articles Lt. Col. Lisicki published in England and France, and in 1976 a comprehensive booklet by W. Kozaczuk “Złamany szyfr” (“Broken cipher”) was issued. The author has also accumulated a rich collection of manuscripts written by Rejewski which have been published on the Internet28Internet database created by Radosław Brzeski

Marian Rejewski died on 13 February 1980 in Warsaw. He was buried in the Powązki Cemetery29L. Gralewski, op. cit., s. 133.. This outstanding citizen of Bydgoszcz permanently etched on the memory of the residents of the city, as evidenced by, among others, placing a commemorative plaque on the building at Wileńska 6 street and a sculpture at the corner of Gdańska and Śniadeckich street presenting Rejewski working on ciphers. To commemorate the 110th anniversary of the birth and 35th anniversary of the death, the year 2015 was announced in Bydgoszcz the Year of Marian Rejewski.

Prepared by: Michalina Grzonkowska, MA

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1. W. Kozaczuk, W kręgu enigmy, Warszawa 1979, s. 36-42.
2. In the radio engineering factory of AVA Company, there worked radio amateurs Ludomir and Leonard Danielewiczowie TPAV, Antonii Palluth TPVA. The combination of their call signs created the name AVA. W. Kozaczuk, op. cit., s. 73-74.
3. L. Gralewski, Złamanie enigmy. Historia Mariana Rejewskiego, Toruń 2006, s. 60-62.
4. Ibidem, s. 88.
5. M. Rejewski, Matematyczne podstawy rozwiązania niemieckiego szyfru maszynowego „Enigma” [w:] W. Kozaczuk, op. cit., s. 388.
6. L. Gralewski, op. cit., s. 97- 106.
7. Z. J. Kapera, Marian Rejewski. Pogromca Enigmy, Kraków-Mogilany 2005, s. 50.
8. H. Sowińska, Gdy patrzę na stare fotografie. Geniusz z Wileńskiej, „Gazeta Pomorska” 29.09.2000.
9. Ibidem, s. 110.
10. M. Rejewski, Jak matematycy polscy rozszyfrowali enigmę, „Wiadomości Matematyczne 1980, t. XXII, s. 26.
11. L. Gralewski, op. cit., s. 110.
12. Z. J. Kapera, op. cit., s. 54.
13. Ibidem, s. 56.
14. L. Gralewski, op. cit., s. 117.
15. S. Strumph-Wojtkiewicz, Sekret enigmy, Warszawa 1978, s. 141.
16. Z. J. Kapera, op. cit., s. 68.
17. L. Gralewski, op. cit., s. 123-127.
18. Ibidem, s. 126.
19. H. Sowińska, Teczka figuranta,, [dostęp: 07.05.15]
20. Z. J. Kapera, op. cit., s. 72.
21. H. Sowińska, Teczka figuranta…
22. Ibidem.
23. Ibidem.
24. Ibidem.
25. Z. J. Kapera, op. cit., s. 74.
26. H. Sowińska, Teczka figuranta…
27. Z. J. Kapera, op. cit., s. 76
28. Internet database created by Radosław Brzeski
29. L. Gralewski, op. cit., s. 133.