The Imitation Game: Poland angry that its 'important' contribution to cracking Enigma was reduced to 'just one line'

The Oscar-nominated film focused on the efforts of mathematician Alan Turing at Bletchley Park, but failed to acknowledge the input of Polish codebreakers before World War Two broke out

Jess Denham
Thursday 18 February 2016 10:01 GMT
Benedict Cumberbatch on the brink of cracking Enigma as Alan Turing in The Imitation Game
Benedict Cumberbatch on the brink of cracking Enigma as Alan Turing in The Imitation Game (Snap Stills/REX)

Benedict Cumberbatch might have been Oscar nominated for his role as mathematician Alan Turing in The Imitation Game, but Poland is not best pleased that its “important contribution” to breaking the Nazi Enigma code was ignored.

The Polish government has pointed out that Polish codebreakers were instrumental in helping British allies crack the German system and save lives by cutting World War Two short.

Polish mathematicians (notably Marian Rejewski, Jerzy Rozycki and Henryk Zygalski) succeeded in breaking early Enigma codes in 1932 and passed their findings to British counterparts shortly before the war began. Poles also taught Turing how to build machines that simulated the Enigma machine.

Turing went on to create the more sophisticated computer at Bletchley Park that successfully broke the upgraded war-time code, using Polish research. Despite this, many historians and filmmakers fail to reflect Poland’s crucial role, with The Imitation Game merely glossing over it.

Maciej Pisarski, deputy chief of mission at the Polish Embassy in Washington is eager to “fill in the blanks…right this wrong and put this picture in a more complete way”.

“I am sure it is a very good movie but I don’t think it tried to tell the whole story,” she told The Telegraph. “It’s important to do justice to the people involved but to underline and underscore the strong cooperation between Britain and Poland when it came to Enigma.”

Dr Grazyna Zebrowska, science and technology advisor at the same embassy, added that although The Imitation Game focuses on Turing and the British codebreakers over a short space of time, “there was an audible sigh in Polish cinemas when [its] contribution was reduced to just one line”.

The Polish government has launched an exhibition, Enigma: Decipher Victory, to help tell its side of the story around the world.

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