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Timewatch - Codebreakers / Bletchley Park


jmcc

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Timewatch programme on BBC2 now about Bletchley Park and Tunny. Worth watching if you've any interest in why WW2 turned out like it did.

Regards...jmcc
 

jdaly

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Looking around today it seems that it turned out with Germany in control of much of Europe.
 

Sensible Head

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Ohh excellent . A fantastic story . And being a computer nerd .... Well :)
 

jmcc

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A great programme. The books on Tunny are very interesting.

Regards...jmcc
 

CookieMonster

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A great programme. The books on Tunny are very interesting.

Regards...jmcc
Can you recommend any?

Accessible ones please, I know what you're like.
 

jmcc

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Can you recommend any?

Accessible ones please, I know what you're like.
Stephen Budiansky's "Battle of Wits" gives one of the best overviews (non-technical) of codebreaking in WW2. Simon Sebag-Montifiore's "Enigma: The Battle for the Code" is also a good read on Enigma. Paul Gannon's "Colossus: Bletchley Park's Greatest Secret" is also good. There are others that I'll dig out later.

Regards...jmcc
 

TheWexfordInn

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I've done the day tour of Bletchley Park. Not much there to make it a great day out for all the family but very interesting for geeky nerd types.
 

jmcc

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The Germans smelled a rat long before the War's end

- but they could not fathom where the 'leaks' were coming from...:shock:
I think that there was a review (German) of Enigma that found that it could not be broken by conventional (non-automated) means. The Allies also had targeted the French phone system in the run-up to D-Day to force the Germans to use RF transmissions and Enigma. What is interesting is the theory on how the Germans may have used computing (Konrad Zuse's machines) and the effect it had on some weapons development.

Regards...jmcc
 

emulator

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It was very interesting to see at the end that some of the documents relating to it are still classified. I wonder why ?

Surely anything of a technical nature wouldn't have any relevance now. You would have to draw a conclusion it would be operational maters. Maybe they reference operational issues with their allies that would even now, cause issues if they were made public....
 

hollandia

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It was very interesting to see at the end that some of the documents relating to it are still classified. I wonder why ?

Surely anything of a technical nature wouldn't have any relevance now. You would have to draw a conclusion it would be operational maters. Maybe they reference operational issues with their allies that would even now, cause issues if they were made public....
Depending on how important somwthing is deemed to be, it falls under the 30, 50 or 100 year secrecy. I don't think there is a mechanism to declassify information. The sad part of the story is the way Turing was treated after the war, falling foul of the homosexuality laws of the time.
 

jmcc

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It was very interesting to see at the end that some of the documents relating to it are still classified. I wonder why ?
Information Theory and the mathematics surrounding it - basically the foundations of some modern cryptography. Having a head start on that kind of stuff would put a nation far ahead of others. But cryptanalysis had become far more industrialised by the end of WW2 and some of the approaches to breaking codes were, even then, non-obvious. A workable form of Public Key Cryptography was developed by GCHQ first.

Surely anything of a technical nature wouldn't have any relevance now. You would have to draw a conclusion it would be operational maters. Maybe they reference operational issues with their allies that would even now, cause issues if they were made public....
When Enigma was effectively made public in the 1970s, there was a lot of reevaluation of events during WW2 and shortly afterwards. While the technology may be obsolete now, some of the methodology was used for years afterwards in various devices. (The reuse of Tunny machines by the Soviets after WW2 was mentioned in the programme.)

Regards...jmcc
 

Slievenaglogh

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Up to 10,000 people were involved in Bletchley Park and related sites. At the end of the war they were instructed not to talk about their work there and for 30 years NOBODY DID! That's what I find amazing. Nowadays, the secret would be out by teatime.
 
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jmcc

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Didn't Peter Calvocoressi write about it before he died? He was there too...
Quite a few of them did but after it became generally known in the early 1970s. I think that much of the Tunny stuff didn't come out until the 1980s.

Regards...jmcc
 

Malcolm Redfellow

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I borrowed Fred Winterbotham's The Ultra Secret from the local library, as soon as it became available in 1974-5. That was the first 'popular' exposure of what Bletchley Park was up to. The book was, we learned subsequently, something of a vanity effort, and very dodgy (deliberately so?) on many aspects. Clearly Winterbotham didn't have any great grasp of the technologies.

Nobody bothered to tell us that Władysław Kozaczuk had already blown the gaff half-a-dozen years earlier — but in Polish.

We had to wait until 1980-1 and Peter Calvocoressi's Top Secret Ultra for a better account of Bletchley Park. Even so, Calvocoressi was in air intelligence ('Hut 3') and — again in retrospect — seems a trifle light on the naval war.

I doubt I thoroughly understood Hugh Sebag-Montefiore's Enigma.

As for why the whole business remained (and some bits still remain) classified, I've always assumed that large bits of the German war-machine went east with the 1945-49 Soviet demontage of anything portable.
 

Ganyer

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The Germans smelled a rat long before the War's end

- but they could not fathom where the 'leaks' were coming from...:shock:
They assumed that the Enigma cipher was "unbreakable", the leaks were attributed to espionage & the timely allied interventions were put down to bad luck/coincidence in many instances.

Karl Donitz lived until 1980, when the British declassified the code breaking activities of Bletchley (in the late 70s IIRC), he was profoundly shocked and devastated to learn that the Naval cipher had been routinely broken. Ironically, the Germans (the B-Dienst) had themselves broken the RN ciphers during the war.
 

Levellers

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I suspect the reason for keeping secrets still is that the inaction on certain German operations [to hide the fact they had Enigma] would shock the public.
 

cogar

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An excellent prog - I have read a lot about station x - but there is alway fresh detail to savor! I must be remembered that if the rules/ procedures are followed then the cipher would not have been broken.
 
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