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ENIGMA - by ROBERT HARRIS




ENIGMA

Title: The title implies that the book is about a German deciphering-machine.

The book is about a young decipherer during World War II and his connections to a German spy connection.

The book is about  Thomas Jerico  who worked as a cryptanalyst during World War II at Bletchley Park. There he got into contact with a young good-looking    British undercover spy, Claire Romilly. About in the middle of the story she suddenly disappeared and during his investigations he broke into a German spy syndicate, led by Adam Pukowski, and destroyed it.



Characters:

Thomas R. G. Jerico:   After his father's early death his mother married another  man, whom he disliked, so he found into astronomy and mathematics. He matriculated in 1935, Senior Wrangler, Mathematics Tripos in 1938. At Cambridge University, a maths teacher, Frank Atwood sent him to a friend who led him into the art of deciphering. On 4th December 1939, three days after the Germans invaded Poland, he began to work at Bletchley Park. There he met Claire Romilly with whom he had a short-time-affair. In January 1943 he had a physical break-down and was sent back to Cambridge University shortly after he deciphered the German-naval code "SHARK". Shortly after his break-down the German naval-forces surprisingly changed their Enigma-codebooks, so that he was again called to Bletchley Park. Back there he met Claire again. He fell in love with her but she ended their affair abruptly.

                                        p.63 :``a mathematician, like a painter or a poet is a maker of             patterns ´´ (by G. H. Hardy)

                                        p.65 :``Jerico thought the Enigma machine was beautiful - a             masterpiece of human ingenuity that created both             chaos and a tiny ribbon of meaning. ´´

                                        p. 287: `` I'm a mathematician, not a moral philosopher. ´´

Hester Wallace:   She grew up in Dorset, went to school at an eccentric girls´ school at Beaminster. Through her gift for crosswords, she came to Bletchley Park by winning a crossword-competition of the Telepgraph. She lived in the same house as Claire so she got into contact with Jerico when he tried to find Claire.

                               So both became very close friends during their search for Claire, as  both of them knew, that they needed each other's help to solve the mystery of Claire's disappearance.

 

Enigma

 

 
  Claire Alexandra Rommily: She pretended to be born in London in 1921, educated privately abroad, after her mother's decease in 1929. Her father worked all over Europe in his job as a diplomat, even in Berlin for two years. She finished her education in Geneva and returned to London on the outbreak of war, aged seventeen. After a few voluntary jobs at civil defence she got a job as translator in 1941 at the Ministry of Economic Warfare. Then in 1942 she  applied for clerical position at the Foreign Office. Because of her good knowledge of languages she was recommended for a position at Bletchley  Park. So she started working at the store-building in the Park. There she had an affair with Jerico, but she ended their relationship abruptly because she loved someone else, Adam Pukowski. Later she disappeared surprisingly.

Adam Pukowski: His mother was English, his father Polish. He lived in London till  he was ten , when his parents divorced he went away with his father to live in Cracow. The father was a professor of mathematics, the son showed similar aptitude, and found his way into the Polish Cipher Bureau at Pyry. When the war broke out his father was called up with the rank of mayor to rejoin the Polish Army. Defeat came. Half of Poland was occupied by the Germans, the other half by the Soviet Union. His father disappeared. Puck escaped to France to become one of the fifteen Polish cryptanalysts employed at the French cipher Centre at Gretz-Armainvillers. Defeat came again. Puck escaped via Vichy France to neutral Portugal, where he made the acquaintance of Rogerio Raposo. From Portugal Puck made his way to England, where he worked as a cryptanalyst at Bletchley Park. Two years passed with no news of Puck's father or of any of the other ten thousand missing Polish officers. In 1941, after Germany invaded Russia, Stalin became unexpectedly a British ally. Two years later rumours began to circulate among the Poles in exile in London that these officers had been shot and buried in a forest near Smolensk. Then the day came when Puck found out that one of the dead men was his father.

                                

                                 p.350:  ´´I killed her, Thomas I am so terribly sorry. ``

                                 p. 287:   `` The presumption that the onus is on us to make a moral                   choice. ´´

Guy Logie: Before the war Logie had been head of mathematics at a vast and ancient public school. He had a Blue in rugger and another in hockey and ``irony bounced off him like pebbles off an advancing rhinoceros. ´´ p. 21

                     Logie is the head of the chief cryptanalyst at Bletchley Park, so he was the man who took Jerico back to the Park after his blackout.




                    

Leonard Skynner:    He was the head of the naval section at Bletchley Park, and so he was Jerico´s superior. He disliked the way Jerico behaves and wanted him out of the Park.

                                   p. 91: ``Thank you, Tom. Thank you very much indeed. I´d                          forgotten what a tower of strength you could be. ´´

p.  91: ``I never wanted you back, not because I think you're a      fool- Alec´s is wrong about that. Your´re not a fool. But        you are a wreck. You´re ruined. You've cracked once        before under pressure and you'll do it again, as your   little performance just showed. ´´

q.   93: `` You are an ill man, Tom. And I'm stronger than you in            every way. ´´

Officer Wilgram:  He was the chief of Bletchley Park's secret service, so he was the one who sent under-cover agent Claire Rommily to Bletchley Park to infiltrate the cryptanalysts. He knew everything about Puck's dead father but he still let Puck run into the trap and later shot him when he tried to escape to Germany.                                               

                                 p.367:   `` No, I'm sure Pukowski never even told Claire for just     one minute what he was planning to do. Consider it        from his point of view. She was the weak link. She could         have given him away at any moment. So imagine how             he must have felt when he saw you walk back through             the door from Cambridge on that Friday night. ``


Plot:

              On a Friday evening in February 1943 Logie takes Jerico from Cambridge University  back to Bletchley Park, where he is confronted with the problem that the German-submarines have changed their codes and that three American convoys, with 117 merchant ships 9 000 merchant seamen and about one thousand passengers, have just reached the middle of the Atlantic. Suddenly his ex-girlfriend Claire doesn't come to work, and so he starts to look for her. While looking for her he finds some top-secret stuff in her room. Later he discovers that the sheets are some deciphered radio-transmissions from a German-Unit in Poland  to the Gestapo HQ, which have just discovered a mass extermination of Polish Officers in a forest near Smolensk by the Soviet Army. Among the dead is also Adam Pukowski´s  father, a decipherer at Bletchley Park, who from then on hates the Soviets and their Allies. So he becomes a spy for the Germans and later tries to escape to Germany. But on the train to his meeting with a German- submarine Jerico finds him and when he tries to escape he gets shot by the police.

Discussion:  I really enjoyed reading the book, because it was thrilling  except for the last few pages. I had read some stuff about Enigma in a history-magazine before, so I knew what the book  would be about when I bought it. After reading the book I searched for the historical background and found out that the author had made a few mistakes, which was a pity because it destroyed my illusion of what could really have happened at Bletchley Park. The book is more a propaganda- text than a historical text. I didn't expect the author to write a historically correct text, but it would have done no harm if he  had kept more closely to the truth.

                             I was also fascinated by the thought of a deciphering-machine with 7,9 E 12 different settings and the techniques  and equipment the cryptanalysts at Bletchley Park used to break the codes.

  











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