Sekret Enigmy (Enigma Secret) (1979)

 

 

 

Director:     Roman Wionczek.

Starring:     Tadeusz Borowski (Marian Rejewski),  Piotr Fronczewski (Jerzy Rózycki),  Piotr Garlicki (Henryk Zygalski),  Tadeusz Plucinski (Engineer Antoni Palluth),  Janusz Zakrzenski (Col. Gwido Langer),  Andrzej Szczepkowski (Col. Gustave Bertrand),  Wojciech Duryasz (Mechanic Edward Fokczynski),  Andrzej Lajborek (Heinz Hoger),  Jerzy Kamas (Commodore Alistair Denniston),  Ewa Borowik (Irena Olanska),  Halina Golanko (German spy),  Grazyna Marzec (Irena Rejewska),  Jolanta Wollejko (Jadwiga Palluth),  Ewa Zukowska (Barbara Rózycka),  Wieslawa Niemyska (Bertrand's wife),  Stanislaw Zaczyk (Col. Stewart Menzies),  Arkadiusz Bazak (Major),  Wlodzimierz Bednarski (Mjr. 'Bartosz'),  Henryk Bista (Brochwitz),  Seweryn Butrym (Maurice Gustave Gamelin),  Czeslaw Byszewski (General Vuillemin),  Eugeniusz Kaminski (Mjr. Wiegand),  Krzysztof Kalczynski (Cpt. Delor),  August Kowalczyk (Col. Rivet),  Emil Karewicz (Col. Artur Szlich),  Zygmunt Kestowicz (Mjr. Maksymilian Ciezki),  Jan Machulski (Col. Rudolf),  Stanislaw Mikulski (Col. Zakrzewski),  Andrzej Mirecki (Adolf Hitler /Actor),  Jerzy Nowak (Alexander Cadogan),  Marcel Novek (Cpt. Braquenie),  Józef Para (Col. Smolenski),  Jack Recknitz (Dillwyn Knox),  Tadeusz Szaniecki (Wilhelm Canaris),  Wlodzimierz Wiszniewski (Gestapo Officer in Sachsenhausen),  Józef Zacharewicz (Winston Churchill),  Lech Adamowski,  Damian Damiecki (Stanislaw Danilewicz),  Maciej Damiecki (Ludomir Danilewicz). 

Polish contribution to the breaking of the German enigma code in WWII

 

 

Spoiler Warning: below is a summary of the entire movie. 

Part I. 

Prior to the start of World War II with the invasion of Poland.  The men in Polish Intelligence meet with several higher officers.  The officers want the men to work on a secret project for Department Two. Colonel Gwido Langer will be their immediate supervisor.  The Germans have been engaging in a great deal of covert activities, so the project is of the utmost importance.  The intelligence men are then asked to sign an oath of secrecy, which they all do willingly. 

Hitler is introduced to the Chief Engineer of Signal Center.  He asks if Enigma can remain a secret.  The Chief Engineer is confident that it can.  The messages are all double-enciphered.  The codes and keys are changed daily. 

The Germans have sent a "radio set" to one of the Polish offices and the recipients think it must be something very valuable because the Germans are putting so much pressure on them to send it back.  Two workers show the intelligence officials the "office machine".    Engineer Antoni Palluth says that the machine is ":relatively simple."  Nevertheless they want a replica of the machine for Poland.  They will then send the machine back to the Germans. 

Langer is introduced to the anagrammatists: Marian Rejewski, Jerzy Rózycki,  and Henryk Zygalski.    The men tease Rózycki saying that he is so smart that he is bored.  Langer informs the men that they are shutting down the Poznan intelligence branch and moving intelligence to Warsaw.  The men figure out that each switch is connected to the keyboard in alphabetical order.  Palluth tells one of the men that he is a genius.  He calls Colonel Langer with the news. 

At a night club a performer sings a song dressed as the actor Charlie Chaplin.  Toward the end of the song he switches to look like Hitler.  At the club is the wealthy industrialist Olanski.  Two men, one of them Hoger, watch the Poles closely.  A pretty blonde known as Mira dances with Col. Langer.  She is obviously extremely fond of him, but he tells her to never call him at work. 

Palluth is informed that the Germans have changed the Enigma cylinders making it hard for the decoders.  The Colonel over Langer calls him into his office along with Colonel Szlich.  The Colonel asks Langer why has he moved four intelligence monitoring stations on the Eastern front.  Langer responds it was done by orders from above.  Col. Szlich is convinced they have put the soldiers on the eastern border in great potential danger.  The senior Colonel wants to know what fourteen men are doing here in Pyry.  Langer says:  "decoding." 

The Polish will show their Enigma machines to the French and British.  The a bit optimistic feeling is that the Poles have cracked the Enigma code. 

There is someone taking pictures of intelligence headquarters.  Two guards grab the man, who says that he is just a journalist doing a story.  Langer sees the man brought in. 

Hitler is very satisfied with the Enigma machine and his intelligence units.  They will broadcast tomorrow at dawn a message about preparations for the attack on Poland.  Polish intelligence is able to decipher some of the messages on August 31, 1939.  The news is that the Germans are massing two million soldiers on the Polish border.  They also have Goering's message to the Luftwaffe.  At home Rózycki's wife asks him is there is something wrong.  He tries to act as normal as possible.  The wife, however, fears that war is about to start.  Her husband and some other men with him deny it. 

Langer tells his superiors in the area that he wants three civilian workers exempted from being drafted into the Polish army to fight.  There is some hope that the British will come to the aid of Poland, but others says that the British will not be able to help the Poles at this time.  Langer desperately needs to get his three valuable civilian decoders out of Poland along with others of the intelligence unit.  Mira shows up at the gate to get in to see Col. Langer.  She is very fearful about what is going to happen.  Langer cannot tell her much if anything.  She leaves. 

The intelligence unit is ready to evacuate the area.  They will proceed in two groups.  The small group will consist of Langer, Palluth and a man named Danielowitz.  Stopped a little ways from the intelligence headquarters the unit watches as the now abandoned headquarters is blown up by Polish sappers. 

There are a lot of refugees on the march.  Langer needs four vehicles to move his unit out.  The man in charge of the evacuations is not very sympathetic and tells Langer that he will have to shift for himself for the trucks he needs.  At the congested evacuation route, Hoger is there.  All vehicles and drivers are being checked.  A Pole working with the Germans approaches Hoger.  The three Polish decoders are not here says the Pole.  Hoger introduces himself as Herr Hauptman to the Polish officer in charge.  He says that he is a mayor from a town in Silesia and that he has some valuable files that the Polish government will need.  The Polish officer, even though he knows that Hauptman's identification papers are a fraud, gives Hauptman permission to leave in his car.  The officer says that they may want to use Herr Hauptman at a later date.  Langer and Palluth see the body of a dead Polish soldier.  Someone has stolen his documents. 

The train arrives at the station and the three Polish decoders get off.  Their gear and equipment are unloaded and put onto trucks.  Langer checks the convoy.  He tells the three decoders to go with him.  They are going to save only two Enigma machines and destroy the rest.  They are heading to Rumania.  Men unload the trucks.  Zygalski's wife and child accompany him, but now a farm wagon is brought over and she and the child are driven away.  The Enigma machines are burned along with a lot of paper work. 

The convoy runs into a big traffic jam at the Rumanian border.  All Polish soldiers have to abandon their weapons.  Langer tells the three decoders to start taking a walk.  They are to take another route to get into Rumania.  Once inside the other country, they are to take the first train to Bucharest.  There they are to contact Col. Zakrzewski. 

Part II. 

The decoders tells their story to some friendlies in Rumania.  The Abwehr is looking for them.  They are told to see the French or British attaché.  The three contact Colonel Zakrewski but he says he is really busy.  The staff from Warsaw has just arrived. 

Hoger is back with the Germans.  A German Admiral thanks him for pinpointing targets in Poland for him and others.  The Admiral is still very much interested in catching the three Polish decoders. It is believed that they are interned somewhere.  Hoger is to fly to Rumania to find them. 

The three decoders are informed that their new secret code word is "Source Z".  The decoders continue to work on deciphering.  They send the information to the French.  But the French officer receiving the information is incompetent.  He complains to his more conscientious aide that there is just way too much paper work to go over.  He in particular complains about the "yellow stripes" (that are coming from the three Polish decoders).  Even though the aide tells the officer that they are deciphered messages, the officer wants to ignore the pieces of paper. 

There is great news in the Polish intelligence unit.  Rózycki has deciphered the latest German messages.  Col. Langer is quickly informed. 

In London an officer says that it is his understanding that the Bletchley people can now decodes the Kriegsmarine ciphers.  The reply is "No. Not yet by ourselves."  The French have three Polish decoders and they feed them part of the puzzle to decipher the German messages.  Winston Churchill feels that the Bletchley memos and letters are so important that he tells an aide that he will personally read all Bletchley messages. 

Col. Langer's path crosses with that of Mira once again.  He tells her that a man named Van Roggen wrote to him.  Mira says that he is her husband.  Langer is a bit taken aback by this surprise.  Mira is a a bit upset at Langer's negative reaction.  She obviously still feels the same about Langer as before.  They kiss. 

Source Z receives a present from the British.  They get 60 coding sheets and are very grateful.  The coders discover that Hitler is planning another invasion. 

Hitler gives a speech saying that it is time for France to be invaded. 

Polish intelligence finds out that the so-called journalist arrested at the Polish intelligence headquarters is really a spy for the Germans.  He works for Abwehr.  The man is sentenced to death.  The condemned man starts immediately saying that he has other information for them.  He knows about Hoger and knows that Col. Szlich is an Abwehr mole.  The man is obviously trying to buy time. and he is given time to write down on paper all that he knows about other German agents.  The condemned man, however, is more interested in escaping.  He overpowers his immediate guard only to be shot dead by another guard. 

German officers attend a fancy night club in Paris.  Hoger is there.  The scuttlebutt is that Langer has slipped out to Algiers.  They decide to release Mira so that she will find Langer for them.  Hoger personally speaks with Mira and tells her to go to the unoccupied zone.  She is ordered not to contact her husband. 

The latest news in Polish intelligence is that Mira is to stay at a resort in the Pyrenees Mountains.  The other news is that the Germans are preparing to take over the rest of France.  And then comes some bad news for intelligence.  Decoder Jerzy Rózycki was on the Marseilles-Algiers packet ship that struck a mine and sank. 

The Germans round up a number of people, including some of the wives of the Polish decoders.  Ana Langer is prevented from being taken away with her mother.  She is abandoned.  Two Germans go over to her to ask her name.  Ana Langer is the reply.  She then bites the hand of one of the Germans and runs away. 

French police are seen outside the secret hideout for Polish intelligence.  Langer tells his men to stop transmitting and evacuate the place.  They quickly pack up everything and leave.  They were to be taken out of the area by an airplane but the officer in command was too scared to wait for the arrival of the Poles.  A German tank and many German soldiers attack the now abandoned buildings of Polish intelligence.  They don't find anyone or any intelligence equipment or messages. 

The intelligence unit splits up to get to Spain by different routes.  Langer runs to jump onto a passing train.  Some German troops fire at him from afar but miss him.  The two remaining Polish civilian decoders hire a guide who leads them on a mountain climbing expedition over the Pyrenees.  The guide abandons them at the last peak and they climb down into Spain to head for Puigcerda four kilometers away.  The rest of Langer's men gather together to take a bus ride into Spain.  As the men board, Mira spots Langer.  She goes up to greet him.  Langer, very afraid she will give him away, tells her to go away, he will explain at a later time.  She is very confused.  Just before the bus leaves Langer sees her talking to a German soldier who goes to the telephone booth to make a call. 

On the road to Spain the Germans stop the bus at a road block.  Hoger is with them.  They force everyone out.  Then they ask for Langer, Ciezki, Palluth and Fokcyzinski by name.  The men have to give themselves up.  They are placed in a paddy wagon type vehicle. 

The two remaining decoders are placed in a Spanish jail.  They stay there for some months.  The British contact person says that now they don't need the Poles.  British intelligence can do it by themselves.  But they do start to make arrangements for the Polish Red Cross to put the two men into quarters. 

Langer and the others are tortured by the Germans who want to know the whereabouts of the Polish civilian decoders.  One of the Poles says that one of the three is dead, but he does not know the whereabouts of the other two.  The Germans threaten them with stern punishment.  They are put in a German concentration camp.  A bloody and bruised Fokcyzinski is thrown back into his barracks. He tells the men: "I told them nothing."  The Germans come back to grab another of Langer's group. 

Two airplanes pass over the concentration camp.  Then they start bombing and strafing the camp.  At least one of Langer's men is killed. 

Back in Britain.  The war is won, but the British still want to keep the Enigma machines and codes top secret.  Palluth and Fokczyski died at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp.  One of the three decoders drowned.  The feeling is that the Poles knowing about Enigma cannot be permitted to return to Poland. 

In the last scene we see Marian Rejewski return to Poland and his family via the train. 

 

Interesting movie.  I had no idea of the role of the Polish in cracking the German Enigma encoding machine.  And the movie made me realize how much more complex the solution was than just capturing a German Enigma machine.  The movie could have been shortened quite a bit.  The talks about the decoding process lost me a couple of times.  And there were too many characters.  But I'm glad I saw it. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.

 


Historical Background:

The DVD has some notes on the historical background.

"Poland learned of the German military's Enigma machine in 1928.  In 1932, Poland's cipher bureau hired mathematicians Marian Rajewski, Jerzy Rozycki and Henryk Zygalski to work on the encoded messages under the command of Colonel G. Langer.  Marian Rajewski made the initial breakthrough by developing a mathematical equation which would help figure out the rotor wiring inside the machine.  The equation had too many variables to be effective, but with the help of a German traitor, Rajewski filled in some blanks and managed to work out the rotor wiring.  Soon afterwards, he also figured out how the machine was wired.  The Poles were then able to construct their own Enigma with this information. 

"The "Bomba" machine was developed by the Poles right before World War II started.  It looked like three pairs of Enigma machines linked together, and was able to decode German communiqués in two hours or less.  Unfortunately, as Germany was getting ready to invade Poland, they added two new rotors to the existing three in the Enigma machine.  The machined still used only three of the rotors to encode the messages, but the Poles had no way of knowing which three out of the five were being used. 

"Marian Rajewski went to work and, just as before, figured out the wiring of the new rotors.  But adapting the "Bomba" to the new changes would prove to be beyond the Poles' capabilities, since it would take sixty interlinked machines to do the task that six machines had been doing until then. 

"Two months before the war began, the Poles decided to share all their Enigma research with the English and French so that their work would not be lost in case Germany invaded.  The English and French were amazed by the progress of the Poles.  The fact that the Poles had created their own Enigma machines was amazing, but the "Bomba" caught them completely off-guard. 

"England's Government Code & Cipher School (GC&CS) is where Alan Turing, Gordon Welchman and Harold "Doc" Keen did all their Enigma research.  In August of 1940, they created the first "Bombe" machine (the French word for bomb).  The 'Bombe' machine contained thirty six sets of three rotors, as opposed to only three sets in the Polish 'Bomba'.  Over the course of the war, Britain built 210 of the 'Bombe' machines.

"At the end of 1941, the Germans added a fourth working rotor to the Enigma machine.  This rotor was thinner than the rest, and was actually used during the encoding process.  Unfortunately for the allies, the British 'Bombe' was not equipped to decode messages which were encoded using this fourth rotor. 

"America began working on the Enigma project in 1942.  They decided that the British 'Bombe' would never be sufficient to decode the four rotor messages.  Joseph Desch was the man who would work to design an American 'Bombe'. 

"In October of 1942, a British team captured and boarded U-boat U-559 and retrieved valuable documents.  These documents helped them figure out a way around the four rotor Enigma, and allowed them to read the messages with a delay of thirty-six hours.  A few messages were delayed up to ten days. 

"The Americans, though, were still convinced that their four rotor 'Bombe' machine would be more efficient, so they continued with their project.  On May 1st, 1943, the first American 'Bombe' prototypes, Adam and Eve, were completed.  But it wasn't until May 28 that the first successful message was decoded. 

"At first, the technicians had no idea what the numbers in the message meant.  They gave it to their superior, who in turn sent it to Washington.  It was later learned that the numbers represented the location of the refueling U-boats.  The American promptly destroyed the specialized U-boats, drastically reducing their effective range. 

"Eventually, Britain could not keep up with the demand for four rotor 'Bombe' machines, and the Americans completely took over. 

"Since the end of the war, there has been a concerted effort by England, France and America to take all the credit for the Enigma Project, when in fact, none of their work would have been possible had it not been for the initial work done by Marian Rajewski, Jerzy Rozycki and Henryk Zygalski.  These three men had been working on the project since 1932 and laid all of the groundwork for future research into cracking the Enigma."

 

 

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