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Marian Adam Rejewski

Marian Adam Rejewski (born 16 August 1905, died 13 February 1980). He was born in Prussia, in a merchant family in Bydgoszcz, where he graduated from a gymnasium in independent Poland. He obtained his university diploma in Poznań. While still a student, he attended a cryptology course organised by the Cipher Bureau of the Polish General Staff’s Second Department. In 1929, Rejewski was employed by the Cipher Bureau branch in Poznań, being at the same time involved with the Adam Mickiewicz University as an assistant. In September 1932, he was relocated to Warsaw as a civilian employee.

Rejewski, together with two other cryptologists, Jerzy Różycki and Henryk Zygalski, created a team tasked with breaking the Enigma machine, a German encryption device. Rejewski’s personal contribution was primarily creating the so-called ‘cryptologic bomb’, which allowed finding within almost two hours the daily encryption key used by the Germans. Due to this achievement, Polish analysts joined the ranks of the greatest cryptologists of all time. Before the war broke out, they shared their discovery with the military intelligence agencies of Poland’s French and English allies.

After September 1939, Polish cryptologists fled to France through Romania. In France, they would break German ciphers at two different cryptology centres (first ‘Bruno’, then ‘Cadix’). They stayed in southern France almost until the end of 1942. Due to the risk of being exposed, they decided to flee to England, through Spain (where they were temporarily imprisoned) and Portugal. In the British Isles, in a radio unit directly under the Commander-in-Chief, they would break codes used by the SS and SD – they were no longer involved in deciphering messages encrypted by the Enigma machine.

Rejewski returned to Poland in 1946 to reunite with his family that he had left behind. He planned to find employment with the Adam Mickiewicz University, but eventually, until his retirement, he worked as a clerk for different companies. Between 1949 and 1958, Rejewski was under surveillance by the Department of Security. He revealed his role in deciphering the Enigma code only after his retirement in the late 1960s.

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