Enigma code breakers ‘could inspire NI peace’

L-R PaweB Majewski, Consul General of the Republic of Poland in Belfast, Dr Terry Cross OBE and Maciek Bator, project co-ordinator
L-R PaweB Majewski, Consul General of the Republic of Poland in Belfast, Dr Terry Cross OBE and Maciek Bator, project co-ordinator
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A Northern Ireland community organisation is hoping the collaboration that led to the cracking of the German’s Enigma code during World War Two can inspire lasting peace in the Province.

As part of a cross-community educational programme the David Cross Foundation for Peace and Reconciliation will host the nephew of Alan Turing, the man who led the world’s most influential code breakers at Bletchley Park and who has been chosen by the Bank of England to be the new face of the £50 banknote in 2021.

On September 12 Sir Dermot Turing will deliver his first talk to a group of students at Royal Belfast Academical Institution (RBAI) before taking to the stage at the Great Hall in Queen’s University.

He will provide an insight into how the intelligence services of three countries – France, Britain and Poland – came together to unravel the enigma machine and explain how this unique collaboration was one of the most secret success stories that made the Second World War victory possible.

Project co-ordinator Maciek Bator said: “I’m delighted to welcome Sir Dermot Turing to Belfast to kick off the programme. The remarkable story of the joint effort of Poland, UK and France code breakers is often forgotten. And there is no better time than on the 80th anniversary of the Second World War to reflect on how important the collaboration really was. I also want to thank the David Cross Foundation for Peace and Reconciliation for their support. This is a fascinating project, and we hope it will have a positive impact on communities.”

Speaking about his visit to Northern Ireland, Sir Dermot Turing, author of ‘X, Y & Z - The real story of how Enigma was broken’, said: “The achievements of Bletchley Park and the British code-breakers are widely understood to have helped shorten the Second World War by up to two years.

“What is less well known is how much the British were in debt to the work done in Poland on the Enigma problem before the war began.

“This is not just the story of an international treaty, because at its heart is a story about people – in some cases, intriguing and eccentric people – bound up in wider events they could not themselves control.

“All the elements of a classic spy story are here: clandestine meetings, midnight escapes from the Nazi police, betrayals – and at the centre of it all, an amazing piece of mathematical analysis. This all adds new spice to the already extraordinary story of Bletchley Park.”

Discussing the programme Dr Terry Cross OBE said: “In any democratic society, tolerance and respect for other views and perspectives is something that must be consistently fostered to ensure that new generations can continue to enjoy the benefits that accompany a peaceful society.

“Maintaining good community relations takes effort. It requires individuals to see situations from others’ perspectives. By building understanding, we can build trust.

“This cross-community programme is seeking to provide engaging, thought-provoking talks, events and activities that encourage people to think about the society that they live in, and recognise the benefits that come with diversity and embrace life.”