Saturday, February 25, 2012

Heroic Rabbi Beaten, Imprisoned in Backward, Anti-Semitic Poland and Ukraine

Photo by Brendan Hoffman. Source: New York Times.

Menachem Youlus is a peaceful, learned, heroic rabbi and Torah scribe. Rabbi Youlus "exudes honesty and integrity," as one of his supporters and major donors, a lawyer, told the Washington Post. Along with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Nobel laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, Rabbi Youlus is a recipient of the Olender Peacemaker Award.

Rabbi Youlus rescues Torah scrolls from Eastern European countries like Poland and Ukraine – what PBS, America's public television station, called "dangerous places." In these backward, anti-Semitic regions, "Torahs are hidden in walls, buried in the ground, piled in basements of monasteries." Former Nazis and still hidden Jews populate Eastern Europe. Jewish sacred items are put to profane use by Eastern Europe's many anti-Semites.

"In Ukraine, [Rabbi Youlus] bought [a Torah scroll] from a former Nazi sergeant who said he confiscated it from a man entering Auschwitz. Youlus discovered another being sold in pieces to artists who were using the sacred parchment as canvas. Some he smuggled out of then-Communist countries, two panels at a time, in the lining of luggage." Rabbi Youlus has been beaten and imprisoned and "threatened with jail in Siberia."

His "expeditions," as he calls his trips to Eastern Europe, in distant, exotic lands, among the primitive Bohunks, are fraught with peril. Rabbi Youlus has been called "The Jewish Indiana Jones." "'He's an intrepid Jewish 007,' said Rabbi Moshe D. Shualy, ritual director for Chizuk Amuno, a Baltimore synagogue that has two of Youlus's rescued Torahs. 'He puts himself in such impossible situations to find, retrieve and resurrect these scrolls.'" Rabbi Youlus has gone into $170,000 worth of debt to finance his work.

In Ukraine, as reported in the Washington Post, Rabbi Youlus was swindled by a typically crafty and venal Bohunk peasant who used Jewish gravestones to build – what else – a pigsty. In Oswiecim, Poland, Youlus discovered that the town priest was secretly Jewish and had secret information about hidden Torah scrolls, as described below by the Philadelphia Jewish Voice:

Rabbi Youlus "took out an ad in the local [Oswiecim] newspaper and asked if anyone had panels of a Torah from before the war. The next day he received a call from a priest who said he had four panels. The panels were an exact match in pagination, style and content. Obviously they were originally from the Torah he had found buried in the cemetery. Rabbi Youlus learned that the Priest was born a Jew – named Zeev – and was sent to Auschwitz.

Before the Torah had been buried in the Oswiecim cemetery these four panels had been removed and smuggled through Auscwitz (sic) by four different people. As each person who had a panel was about to die they passed along the panels. Eventually the four panels made it into the hands of Zeev who guarded them as a Priest for over 60 years. Rabbi Youlus lovingly restored the Torah and made it kosher once again." This very Torah scroll would be used by the March of the Living on its annual, controversial marches through Poland. "And every other year it will be taken by 10,000 students as they march through Auschwitz on March of the Living."

Rabbi Menachem Youlus' work is so important that it has been featured on numerous Jewish-themed websites, in the New York Times and the Washington Post, and on PBS, America's prestigious public broadcasting television station. Rabbi Youlus has been honored in synagogue ceremonies. Video of one such ceremony is visible on the PBS "Religion and Ethics Newsweekly" website. It was televised nationally in the United States.

From the Washington Post, "with great fanfare, the Torah from Auschwitz was dedicated in New York on Holocaust Remembrance Day 2008. Months later, on the Jewish New Year, the congregation again took the Torah down from its imposing two-tiered ark. In his sermon, Rabbi Rubinstein repeated the story of the Torah's wondrous rescue from the killing fields of Oswiecim [Please note the use here of the name of the Polish town – Oswiecim – rather than the name of the German, Nazi concentration camp – Auschwitz.] Reflecting back on that homily, he says: 'Remember, this was two days after the market dropped 700 points, and I was trying to talk about retrenching, not financial retrenching, [but] what are the things that are the anchors of our lives.'"

As the Washington Post put it, "The stories Youlus has told over the years resonate so powerfully because they meld this centerpiece of the Jewish religion with the cataclysm of the Holocaust, providing a reassuring sense of continuity and hope. As survivors, Youlus's Torahs are brought out for Holocaust Remembrance Day, they're used to teach lessons in religious schools, and for many people, such as Robert Kushner, they have become part of a deeply personal family narrative. Youlus says in a video on the Save-a-Torah Web site: 'Every single Torah that I rescued has a story.'"

The Rabbi's "fundraising video describes Youlus's rescue operation in dramatic fashion. While a violin plays a mournful tune, supporters give testimonials. The screen flashes archival photos of concentration camp barracks and piles of desecrated Torah scrolls. The message is clear: Make a donation so Youlus can parachute in, rescue these fragile survivors and breathe new life into the ancient text known as the Tree of Life."

Note the phrase: "Youlus can parachute in." into what kind of geography does one "parachute in"? One "parachutes in" to chaotic danger zones in which more conventional transportation is not possible. Into what does Rabbi Youlus parachute? Into a scene of concentration camps and desecrated Jewish ritual objects, also known as Eastern Europe. In this Bieganski worldview, that is all that Eastern Europe is.

Shouldn't Eastern European countries be troubled by the removal of cultural items like Torah scrolls? No, says Save-a-Torah's president, investment banker Rick Zitelman of Rockville, Maryland.

"These Torahs do not belong to the people / organizations / museums / churches that hold them. They belonged to synagogues or Jewish communities or families that were destroyed or killed during the Holocaust … These stolen Torahs are no different than art that was stolen from Jews by the Nazis and others, and is now being returned to its rightful owners."

"Many state museums and archives in Eastern Europe – including some in former monasteries – do hold hundreds of scrolls. And half a dozen major Jewish organizations, backed by the U.S. State Department, have been pressing governments in the region to return them to Jewish hands in an orderly fashion.

Wesley Fisher, director of research for the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, is working on the issue. He acknowledges that the slow pace of negotiations 'leads many people to think, 'Well, they should just be taken.' 'But he says he believes the Jewish people should not 'repeat theft,' and with the revival of Jewish life in the region, it's 'not a matter for individuals to decide in cowboy-like fashion' who should have these scrolls. Such decisions should be made in consultation with local communities, he says. Fisher adds: 'I'm not aware that Save-a-Torah is actually trying to deal with Torahs that are held in government hands in the countries of Eastern Europe.'"

Rabbi Youlus' supporters include billionaire David Rubenstein, 60, co-founder and managing director of the Carlyle Group and "Leila Gal Berner – a historian who has taught at leading universities – [who] stands by Youlus even after being informed of [conflicting] facts and of Youlus's denial. In an e-mail, she skirts the question of what the scribe told her about the Torah's origins. "I believe that Rabbi Youlus is an honest man who is doing holy work," she says. "I believe that he must navigate complicated territory in order to find and rescue the Torah scrolls he finds." "For Gal Berner, rescuing a scroll like hers means 'that community didn't die when Hitler tried to kill it.'"


Now for the truth. Rabbi Menachem Youlus is a liar and a con artist who defrauded donors for his own personal gain. He may have stolen as much as one million dollars.

Rabbi Youlus never went to Eastern Europe. The only overseas trip he had ever taken was a two-week visit to Israel.

None of the Torahs Rabbi Youlus sold were, in fact, from Eastern Europe at all.

When confronted with the truth of what Youlus was doing, many continued to support him.

Rabbi Shoshana Hantman said, "'I hope you've read 'To Kill a Mockingbird.' At the end, a truth is concealed for the better good of the community … If there is any deception going on ... also think about what he's done that's good." She wrestles with what she has heard. "Destroying this man, if he is guilty of what you suspect, may very well be in service of the truth but in disservice of a greater truth," Hantman says. What, for Hantman, is the greater truth? "The Jewish reverence for the past, for heritage and for those who suffered and died because of the Nazis."

"Perhaps, as sociologist Samuel Heilman says: 'There's a sensitivity because of Holocaust denial. If you say some stories aren't true, you may have to say that all stories are not true. So best not to touch on a sensitive topic.' Heilman – who has written numerous books about Jewish communities and is a professor at City University of New York – suggests that some American Jews feel guilty: 'They didn't manage to rescue the people, so they rescue the Torahs.' Clark University professor Deborah Dwork, co-author of a history of Auschwitz, has her own theory: 'The loss was so devastating that we crave tales of survival.'"

More defenses of Rabbi Youlus can be found at vosizneias site 47758 and The Jewish Channel's article "Leading Open Orthodox Rabbi Defends Alleged Fraudster."


The saga of Rabbi Youlus invokes many dark themes: gullibility, betrayal, pathological liars and those who enable them. Compounding all this is Youlus' shameless exploitation of the Holocaust. In turn, neo-Nazi websites exploit the Rabbi Youlus story for their own sick, nefarious ends: smearing all Jews and Holocaust denial.


This blog post will not address any of these themes. Rather, this blog post's main idea is already obvious to anyone who has read "Bieganski": The Bieganski, Brute Polak stereotype is such a given, such a constant, in American and Western culture that it played an essential role facilitating Rabbi Youlus' lucrative scam.

The pinnacle, the crème-de-la-crème, of American university scholars, and attorneys, and financiers, and journalists, and television personalities, and religious leaders, are so imbued with, so steeped through, so marinated in the Bieganski stereotype, Bieganski is so firmly nestled in their limbic systems and the marrow of their bones, Bieganski is so much the canonical text, the bread and butter, of the Ivory Tower and television and film and scholarly publications and the mainstream press, that when a pathological con artist like Youlus, through whom they should have seen as if he were a pane of glass, comes along to sell them a bridge, they buy it, because it fits into their stereotypical view of Eastern Europe as a land populated by still-living Nazis and crafty, venal peasants who build their pigsties out of Jewish gravestones and Catholic priests who hide their true, Jewish identity for sixty years under counterfeit cassocks and concentration camps and border guards who threaten heroic rabbis with exile to Siberia.

Those who believe in and promote the racist and revisionist Bieganski stereotype call the shots on all fronts in American and Western culture. Those who challenge Bieganski are not hired and are demonized and silenced.

And Polonia, Poles and other Bohunks do not do one thing about this abysmal state of affairs, and they aren't going to begin to do anything about this until they address the crisis in Polonian leadership, organization, and vision, described here.

Hey, folks, If you're not going to do anything about the Bieganski stereotype, I'm going to use it. 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Holland: Anti-Polish & Anti-Bohunk Immigrant Website


A Dutch political party has launched a website opposing Polish and other Bohunk immigration. Below please find Google's translation of the text on this website:


Since May 1, 2007 there is free movement of workers between the Netherlands and eight countries in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) countries. At present the estimates to the number of people from these countries, which resides in the Netherlands, apart from 200,000 to 350,000 people. As one of the few parties, the Freedom Party from the beginning against the opening of the labor market to Poland and other CEE nationals. Given all the problems associated with the massive arrival of especially Poland, is that attitude materialized. Recently, the PVV whatsoever against further opening of the labor market for Romanians and Bulgarians voted.

This massive labor migration leads to many problems, nuisance, pollution, displacement and integration in the labor and housing problems. For many people, these things a serious problem. Complaints are often not reported, because the idea that nothing is done.

Do you have trouble of CEE nationals? Or have you lost your job on a Pole, Bulgarian, Romanian or other Central or Eastern European? We would like to hear. The Freedom Party has a platform on this website to your symptoms to report. These complaints, we will identify and offer the results to the Minister of Social Affairs and Employment.

Submit your story here"

The website is here.

Many thanks to Otto for this story. Otto's previous posts can be found here and here.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Tim Burton School of Polish-Jewish Relations. By a Guest Author.

Since Danusha's accident will make it hard for her to post for the next little while, Don Freidkin has kindly offered the following guest blog entry.

Don Freidkin is a Texan of Russian- and Georgian-Jewish descent. His great-grandparents migrated from the Black Sea to Anniston, Alabama. His extended family includes director William Friedkin and character actor Joel Friedkin.

Don Freidkin is a writer, producer, and director. He has taught at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, and has managed two Webby award-winning online communities.

Freidkin has been generously and enthusiastically boosting his friend Danusha Goska's writing for over fifteen years. Freidkin's contribution to Bieganski the Blog is below.


The Tim Burton School of Polish-Jewish Relations

I am a huge fan of film director Tim Burton. In his 1996 film "Mars Attacks!", Burton created an homage to 1950s science-fiction films. In "Mars Attacks!", President James Dale (Jack Nicholson) makes a moving speech to the Martian ambassador after the invading Martians have destroyed much of human civilization. Nicholson is so impassioned that when he utters the cliché line, "Can't we all just get along?" it seems fresh and new, and moves even the tearful Martian ambassador to offer his hand in friendship.

Except that Burton will not let the screenplay get away with that, so the Martian ambassador's hand turns out to be a murder device that stabs the president through the back.

Burton, the cynical director who manages to force fantasy and reality into an uneasy marriage that somehow works at least until the end credits, may well be right most of the time. But now and again, we humans manage to rise above the muck in which we prefer to wallow, and to do something magnificent.

Now and again has rolled around yet once more, and if we need a clue how to behave, I suggest the text from Matthew 8:22: "let the dead bury their dead."

We've fought the battles of World War II long enough. We've shoveled over the traces of Jewish pogroms in Poland – real or propagandized – long enough. We've bickered and drenched the ground in Israel with blood and argued over ancient history long enough.

What's done is done, and short of taking care never again to allow any of that to happen, let's just, as a species, unilaterally declare that enough is enough, the past is gone, and nothing we can do will change that.

So, "let the dead bury their dead."

Eleven million corpses – Jews, Gypsies, communists, dissidents, Eastern European partisans – are quite enough, thank you. They make that which was once human beings with hopes, dreams, aspirations, hungers, loves and hates, a great reeking pile of meat rotting in the sun, because we will not let them be buried.

And the stench of history is warping our perceptions of who we are and who we could be, so the world we could make for one another to live in with love and joy recedes even further as we become more like the Nazis we loathe and fear.

And the answer, I think, is simplicity itself: "let the dead bury their dead."

Those who know me will be surprised – appalled, perhaps – to see me quoting scripture like some West Texas Bible thumper, but having done it once to bolster my case, I'll do it again; this time Romans 12:19. The apostle Paul, quoting Deuteronomy 32:35, says, "for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, said the Lord."

So what it boils down to is that whatever wrongs may have been done, whatever evil people have visited upon their fellow humans, our only business is to do our best to avoid a repeat performance, especially if we ourselves are in danger of becoming the performers, and let God take care of the rest.

I don't have a direct line to the mind of God, and in fact, I'm none too sure whether there's anyone on the other end of that line, but I'm tired of waiting on God, and I suggest we take it upon ourselves to leave the dirty work to the Lord, who seems to want it, and get on with building a paradise here for all of us.

Building paradise is not only within our grasp, it is in our job description.

So in answer to Burton's question, "Can't we all just get along?" I say, "Damned straight we can."

Enough is enough. Let's just do it.


The "Mars Attacks!" scene Don mentions is very good and can be seen here.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Enigma: The Real Ultra Secret or "Sekret Enigmy." By a Guest Author.

A Nazi Enigma machine. Source
Marian Rejewski. Source.
Jerzy Rozycki. Source.
Henryk Zygalski. Source.
There are many unsung heroes from World War Two. I'm a World War Two devotee, and in researching a book on a mystery from that period, I have come across many stories that I've never heard before. Some stories are forgotten. Some of the stories morph into half-truths designed to suit the storyteller's purpose. Repeat the lie enough – including lies of omission – and it becomes the popular notion of history. Make the lie into a movie and the truth doesn't stand a chance.

Anyone who has looked at World War Two history will have heard about the importance of Ultra. "Ultra" was the British code name for, inter alia, the British breaking of the German cipher machine, Enigma. It is arguably the most important secret of the war – the other contender would be radar. Both of these helped turn the tide of the war. The Manhattan Project which created the atomic bomb, also important, had a number of Polish scientists contributing to its success, but this was late in the war. It may make another good topic to discuss for another blog. But I digress!

So, as I was saying, The British broke the German Enigma code…There, I just perpetuated the lie. It is that easy.

Now before everyone starts sending notes saying that I wasn't lying and that the Brits really did break Enigma at Bletchley Park, please read on.

One of the critical factors in the Allied victory and the Nazi defeat during World War Two was the Allies' ability to read Axis secret messages. Enigma was the device used to protect those secret messages. Breaking it became a project called Ultra. The ability to read these messages gave the Allies first-hand knowledge of Axis military plans. This allowed the Allies to take back control of the Atlantic from the marauding U-boat packs, to create tactics to maximize the Allies' efforts with a minimum of resources, and to assure that the Axis battle was costly in resources and men. Many other benefits resulted from breaking Enigma.

This history played a role in my own life.

I was working at a camera store in 1980 with a guy named Pete who was studying math and cryptography at a college in New Jersey. He and his professor, Cipher or Cy for short, were my introduction into codes, ciphers and cryptography. Cy's father had worked on breaking the Japanese equivalent cipher machine, PURPLE, as part of the Magic program run by the Americans.

One day, Cy showed up in the camera store with a wooden box and plopped the box down on the counter. It was a little bigger than an old manual portable typewriter.

It was a three-rotor Enigma! I was in the presence of history.

Cy had purchased the machine in Britain. Unfortunately, the purchase was illegal. It caused Cy years of legal difficulties. Eventually he would have to return the Enigma to Britain.

Years later, I was sitting in a library researching cryptography. I came across references to broken Enigma coded messages. These particular messages allowed the Allies to select among the Axis ships that were headed out of North Africa towards Italy. The Allies would sink some of these ships; other ships were allowed safe passage. Ships carrying military supplies were targeted for sinking, while ships with wounded soldiers were allowed safe passage. This was not for humanitarian reasons, but because one wounded, captured enemy soldier tied up approximately ten support staff and diverted money and supplies to keep them alive – money and supplies that would otherwise go towards bombs and bullets.

My dad was a wounded Nazi soldier. He was on one of those ships out of North Africa that had been allowed safe passage by the Allies.

My dad's ship was saved from being sunk by the Allies because Enigma had told them which ships were which. I wouldn't be here now, most likely, if it weren't for Poles breaking Enigma. A real OMG moment.


Enciphering changes plain text messages into unreadable gibberish through an algorithm for conversion along with an agreed upon key. The encrypted message is then transmitted and decrypted back into the original message using the key on the receiving end. Anyone intercepting the secret, encrypted text without the keys and the device used will have a lot of guesses before they can puzzle out the message. For messages concerning military operations where time is essential, this may make breaking the messages impractical.

The Enigma machine was invented by a German engineer early in the twentieth century. The simpler three-rotor version of the Enigma would allow for something like 10^22nd possible solutions.

Another way of thinking about that number would be to imagine something like a Rubik's Cube with a message written on each mini-cube surface. By twisting and turning the facets we encrypt the message. If we know the magic key – in this case the twists and turns used to encrypt – we can undo encryption easily. If we don't we need a way of recreating the message or figuring the key. Brute force guesses are one way.

The Rubik's Cube example is much simpler than the 10 followed by 22 zeroes of possible combinations to guess for Enigma messages.

The five-rotor version increased the theoretical number of possible solutions dramatically and its messages were considered unbreakable by many experts, with something on the order of 10^92nd possibilities.

For perspective on how big a number that is there were about 10^16th seconds between the Big Bang and WW2.

Before the Enigma could be used, the rotors were set to an agreed on sequence, changing the path of the electrical circuit. A cable is plugged into the front of the keypad, further randomizing the path of the circuit. Once this is done, pressing a key on the keyboard sends a signal through the rotors, lighting up the enciphered character on a display above the keyboard. The electromechanical device rotates and changes the path each time a key is pressed. Typing an 'A' one time may give an encrypted 'U' one time and another letter the next time it is pressed.


Movies and books, both fiction and non-fiction, have created popular impressions about Enigma that just aren't true.

The 2001 film "Enigma" is one of my favorites. It stars Academy-Award-winner Kate Winslet, it was produced by Rolling Stone Mick Jagger and Saturday-Night-Live creator Lorne Michaels, and written by multiple Academy-Award- and Tony-Award-winning Tom Stoppard.

"Enigma" is an entertaining, fictional account of how the British, working with some foreign nationals, figure out how to break Enigma messages.

There is an opening scene with German soldiers uncovering the unmarked mass grave of slaughtered Polish soldiers.

The film then moves to Bletchley Park in England, where cryptographers are at work breaking Enigma's coded messages.

The protagonist is a character named Jericho, a genius responsible for figuring out how to tackle Enigma messages through flaws in how the encryption occurs. His love interest is Claire, who may or may not be a Nazi spy.

A convoy of essential goods is sailing from America to England. The convoy is at risk from a U-boat wolf pack sitting in the Atlantic waiting to pounce. Jericho and a helpful, female clerk named Hester, who has a crush on the clueless Jericho, weave through a maze of intrigue and eventually figure out that there is a spy, but that the spy is not who the film's characters, nor the audience, suspect.

The real spy is a Polish cryptographer. He wants to disclose to the world that the Russian allies, not the Nazis, had killed the Polish soldiers buried in the mass grave shown in the opening scenes of the movie. This disclosure would reveal to the world that the British have broken Enigma. The disclosure would do serious damage to the Allied war effort.

Jericho saves the day, the Pole is blown up and the secret that the British have broken Enigma is kept safe. The Nazis continue unwittingly to reveal their battle plans.

Why do I like this cheesy film? There aren't many movies with cryptography at the heart of the story.

Since this is fiction, a little literary license and suspension of disbelief are in order and acceptable. But I worry that so many people "learn" history through movies. "It must be true. I saw it in a movie."

It is odd that they picked a Pole as the traitor though, don't you think?

In non-fiction, there should be no such freedom, right? Factual unadulterated truth, right?

Well, not so much.

Let's look at two canonical, authoritative, non-fiction books about Ultra.

One is "The Ultra Secret" by F.W. Winterbotham. The other, written by Ronald Lewin, is entitled "Ultra Goes to War". Enigma was a state secret until the 70's, and these two books were some of the first to deal with the subject.

Winterbotham's book tells the story of how the Brits broke Enigma, repeating the popular half-truth. Polish contributions and breakthroughs are never mentioned. The lie of omission.

Lewin's book tells the story of how Polish cryptographers, from 1928, started to work on breaking the Wehrmacht and Kriegsmarine ciphers. In 1929, coded messages were picked up by electronic intelligence listening posts, also known as ELINT, at stations located in Warsaw, Starogard near Danzig, Poznan and Krzeslawice near Cracow. Attempts at breaking the messages were fruitless and the Cipher Office, or Biuro Szyfrow of the Polish Army's General Staff, reached out for academic help. That help came from the Dean of the Mathematics Department at the University of Poznan, Professor Zdzislaw Krygowski. He made up a list of his students who would be the best candidates for the Ciphers Office. These candidates then went through a cryptography course developed by the Cipher Office.

Marian Rejewski, Jerzy Rozycki and Henryk Zygalski would reverse engineer replicas of the German Enigma machine, develop early electromechanical computers called the Bomba, or bomba kryptologiczna, which exploit weaknesses in the starting positions of the Enigma messages, allowing them to break Enigma.

They did all this without the fanfare they deserved.

That's the real Ultra secret!

Slowly bits and pieces came out, but "history" is more or less set in stone that the British did it all!

Machines were developed to test potential guesses of the key used for that day's messages. These devices were called Bombes. The attempts at guesses were based on weak hints or cheats called, cribs. A Bombe was set to try and break the message with a crib, until a word might appear and give the cryptographers an idea that a solution was found. The Bombe was a precursor to the modern computer. The British scientist, Alan Turing, the head of Hut 8 at Bletchley Park, is credited with inventing the Bombe. While he did do the groundwork for modern computing, giving Turing credit for the Bombe is another fallacy.

While Turing's Bombe used a different methodology for attacking Enigma, conceptually it originates with the Pole's Bomba created by Rejewski in 1938. Clearly, Turing is every bit of the genius history credits him, maybe more, but the Poles were just as amazing. To put it into perspective, think of trying to recreate television without a working model of a TV set. All you have is rough, second-hand knowledge of what TV looks like and how it operates. Further, imagine that the frequencies change daily.

In the book "British Intelligence," it is suggested that the Poles decided to share their Enigma-breaking techniques and equipment with the French and British because they had encountered technical difficulties. Rejewski refuted this, saying "No, it was not cryptologic difficulties that prompted us to work with the British and French, but only the deteriorating political situation."

Using a weaker, commercial version of the Enigma the team was able to start working on mathematical attacks towards breaking the code. With the help of the French Deuxieme Bureau, a Reichswehr cipher clerk handed over old keys, and in December of 1932, Rejewski was able to reverse engineer the military grade Enigma machine's internal connections of rotors. Between 1933 and 1939, the Poles were able to decode 100,000 transmissions. AVA Radio Workshops in Warsaw built replicas and by August 1939, seventy units were produced.

In 1938 the Germans upgraded to a new version of the Enigma with five rotors, inhibiting the Poles from reading messages, with sixty Bombas necessary instead of six.

Chief-of-Staff Lt. General Waclaw Stachiewicz authorized the Cipher Office to share everything they had learned about Enigma with the Allies in July of 1939. Poland gave the Allies Enigma replicas during a meeting in Warsaw July 24-26, 1939, enabling the British to start reading messages in August of 1939.

With the fall of Poland in September of 1939, the Cipher Office moved to Romania. Towards the end of September of 1939, Rejewski, Zygalski, and Rozycki escaped to France and in October, set up a French-Polish radio intelligence center, codenamed "Bruno," with links feeding the British Government Code and Ciphers School.

In June, 1940 the unit deciphered preparations by the Germans to attack France and were evacuated to Algiers, with the Poles enrolled into the Polish Armed Forces, Branch 300 of the II Directorate.

They would return to France in October, 1940 working for an underground unit named "Cadix" in the city of Fouzes.

Tragically, Jerzy Rozycki died January 9, 1942 when the ship he was traveling on, the Lamoriciere, was sunk.

Henryk Zygalski passed away in Liss, England August 30, 1978.

In November, 1942, due to the threat that ELINT efforts by the Germans might capture the cryptographic unit, Rejewski and Zygalski were sent to Spain, then Gibraltar, and finally England.

All the while they were breaking key messages from campaigns in North Africa and European fronts!

The British refused to allow the Poles access to the full suite of British efforts for security reasons.

More than a slap in the face of the true inventors! Stupid pride that most likely hobbled Allied efforts.

Marion Rejewski passed away at the age of 74 on February 13, 1980. A year and half before, he gave a tape-recorded interview with Richard Woytak. The text was transcribed and published in a book entitled, "Cryptology: Machines, History and Methods" by Deavours, Kahn, Kruh, Melen and Winke.

Small rewards for such a giant contribution to the world and humanity.

It is my hope that we can give these heroes the tributes they so richly deserve.

We should broadcast the real story of how Polish efforts broke Enigma and helped save the day. For those of you who are religious, keep these men in your prayers. The rest can thank their lucky stars for these guys!

Slowly, people are telling the truth. In newer editions, "The Code Breakers" – the Bible of everything crypto – added corrections telling the true story of Poland's contribution. Be forewarned through, this is not a book to curl up with on the couch in front of a fire; it's almost 1200 pages long – and every bit a great crypto-geek read!

There is a 1979 Polish film, "Sekret Enigmy", directed by Roman Wionczek, written by Stanislaw Strumph-Wojtkiewicz and Roman Wionczek. I haven't seen it yet. I'll let you know how it is, once I do – but let's be frank, it's a war movie about cryptography!!! It's going to be great and I'm going to love it!

I don't begrudge the British and American efforts in cryptography during the war. There are many more unsung heroes – sadly too many. My own work is attempting to bring light to a group most have never heard of, and each time we can we should all make sure the whole story sees the light of day.

The dedication for Lewin's book, "Ultra Goes to War" reads:

"To the Poles who sowed the seed and to those who reaped the harvest."

I hope you've found the truth about Enigma enlightening and inspiring. Tell others about this and the other proud moments in Polish history. Don't let your heritage be subverted or ignored and do your part to make sure this story is no longer secret.



Otto's previous contribution to the blog, "Ripples of Sin," can be read here.