The Codebreakers: Enigma, Bletchley Park & the Battle of the Atlantic
An illustrated presentation by Dr Mark Baldwin
One of the Second World War’s most fascinating stories is that of the Enigma machine, a portable encryption device widely used by the Germans, whose ciphers they believed to be totally secure. Nevertheless, by mathematical analysis and modern technology (and a certain amount of good luck), the Allies devised techniques for ‘breaking’ Enigma ciphers, and thus read several million German messages, providing a wealth of reliable Intelligence. The attack on Enigma, initiated by the Poles in the early 1930s, was later perfected by the British at Bletchley Park, today open to the public as a museum site.
The Intelligence gained was of immense value to the Allies in virtually every theatre of war, but nowhere more so than in the Battle of the Atlantic, that fierce conflict which lasted nearly six years and cost over 60,000 lives. Dr Baldwin uses the Battle of the Atlantic to exemplify the importance of codebreaking in winning the war.
After the presentation, the audience are invited to take part in a hands-on practical demonstration of one of the few surviving Enigma machines. Only about 300 are known to survive worldwide; of these, only about a dozen are in public collections in Britain. As these machines are so rare, Dr Baldwin is providing an unusual opportunity for the audience not just to view, but also to operate, an original 1944 4-rotor Enigma machine (i.e. the more sophisticated model, developed for the U-Boat service). This is of particular interest, as there is no working Enigma machine on permanent public display anywhere in England north of Bletchley Park, and nowhere at all in Wales, Scotland or Ireland.
Having delivered over 300 presentations, Dr Baldwin is currently one of Britain’s most experienced speakers on the Enigma machine and the work of the WW2 codebreakers. He has travelled widely throughout Britain addressing a variety of audiences – professional, educational, commercial and the general public – including many in theatres, arts centres and festivals. In 2005, he spoke in Germany (the first Briton to be invited to visit Germany with an Enigma machine) and Northern Ireland, amongst other venues, and in 2006 was asked to mount a hands-on Enigma display at the Imperial War Museum’s travelling exhibition in Shrewsbury. In 2008, he undertook a second lecture tour in Poland, and in 2010 mounted a crypto display at the annual Air Show at RAF Cosford, gave a series of presentations on ‘The Secret War’ on board a cruise ship, and has also spoken at Cranbrook, Porthcurno, Jersey, Farncombe and Harrogate.
Standard ticket £15
This is a seated event. Please contact the venue for any access requirements.BACK TO ALL EVENTS