Person: Rejewski, Marian Adam
Marian Adam Rejewski was a Polish mathematician and cryptologist. He was one of the team that reconstructed the German military Enigma cypher machine before World War II.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- The town of Bydgoszcz, where Rejewski was born and brought up, was in the Prussian partition of Poland and was also known by the German name Bromberg.
- It was at a German speaking Gymnasium in Bydgoszcz, the Königliches Gymnasium of Bromberg, that Rejewski was educated.
- After Rejewski graduated with his first degree in mathematics, he remained at Poznań University to study for his Master's degree.
- Now before going to Göttingen, Rejewski had attended a cryptology course which was put on by the Cipher Bureau for the best German speaking mathematics students.
- However, the Poznań Branch of the Cipher Bureau was disbanded in the summer of 1932 and, on 1 September 1932, Rejewski began to work full-time at the Cipher Bureau in Warsaw.
- The team had a commercial Enigma machine which Rejewski was able to study, but it was clear that the messages were being sent by military style Enigma machines which were modified versions of the commercial type.
- Although the methods devised by Rejewski allowed many messages encoded by the Enigma machine to be read, in September 1936 the Germans changed the coding procedure to introduce a more secure system.
- Again Rejewski, with assistance from Rozycki and Zygalski, was able to make good progress with the greater complexity which had been introduced, and by January 1938 they were able to read about three-quarters of the Enigma messages which were passed to them for decoding.
- Rejewski was able to pass his knowledge of decoding the Enigma messages to the British and French at a meeting which took place in July 1939 at Pyry to the south of Warsaw.
- Rejewski, Rozycki and Zygalski managed to avoid being forced into a refugee camp and they reached Bucharest where, after an unsuccessful attempt to get help from the British embassy, they made contact with the French embassy.
- France surrendered on 22 June and, two days later, Rejewski and his colleagues were evacuated to Algeria.
- Rejewski and his colleagues returned to this unoccupied Vichy France in September 1940 to work there in secret.
- To hide his real identity, Rejewski posed as a professor of mathematics from a lycée in Nantes.
- Again Rejewski and his colleagues began decoding German messages but on 9 January 1942 Jerzy Rozycki died when a ship on which he was returning to France after a stay in Algeria was sunk.
- Rejewski and his remaining colleague Zygalski moved around many of the cities of southern France avoiding capture.
- Rejewski then joined the Polish Army in Britain and remained there for the rest of the war, again working on decoding.
- Had the British authorities had a greater understanding of Rejewski's abilities he would surely have been sent to Bletchley Park to assist the decoding operations being carried out there; sadly this opportunity was missed.
- They were living with their parents in Bydgoszcz and so, following his return, Rejewski chose not to return to his position as a mathematician at Poznań University (although it was still open to him) and took a job as a supervisor of sales at Polish Cable.
- Up to the time of his retirement Rejewski had maintained complete secrecy about his work in cryptology.
- Rejewski died at his home in Warsaw following a heart attack and was buried with full military honours.
Born 16 August 1905, Bromberg, Prussian partition of Poland (now Bydgoszcz, Poland). Died 13 February 1980, Warsaw, Poland.
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Thank you to the contributors under CC BY-SA 4.0!
Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive