The work of Codebreakers living in Bletchley Park huts and blocks that were built to last only a few years have routinely been credited with shortening World War II by at least two years. What started out in 1938 as a relatively innocent in appearance gathering of members of MI6 and the Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS) became a secret team of individuals including a number of scholars turned ‘codebreakers’. Their mission was to crack the Nazi codes and ciphers with the most famous of the cipher systems to be broken at Bletchley Park was the Enigma.
Timed to coincide with the 75th anniversary of their efforts will be the release of a much-anticipated, Oscar-worthy film, The Imitation Game, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley. Cumberbatch plays Alan Turing, the mathematician and computer scientist who had a major role in the Bletchley Park team that cracked the German Enigma code during the Second World War. Knightley stars as Turing’s close friend and one-time fiancé Joan Clarke with Mark Strong as Stewart Menzies, chief of MI6 and the British Secret Intelligence Service. Downton Abbey‘s Alan Leech also stars as a Scottish spy who worked with the Soviets to plot against Turing
Set for a November 2014 release, the film will deal with Turing’s struggle with homophobia which eventually led him to take his own life in 1954. Because of this, Turing’s ideas and contributions were kept secret and he was never given credit for his incredibly important work during the war. Long considered a mathematical genius, Turing posthumously received a royal pardon from the Queen this past year, nearly 60 years after he committed suicide.
While is has been 75 years, this year, since that original gathering, Bletchley Park was the world’s best kept secret. Up until wartime information was declassified in the mid-1970s, no-one who worked at the home of the GC&CS was allowed to talk about it, not even to each other. Even with this declassification, it was still shrouded in mystery. Sadly, the knowledge of the incredible work done at Bletchley Park has only became much more mainstream over the last couple of years with the broadcast of the brilliant BBC/PBS series, Bletchley Circle and the upcoming release of The Imitation Game.
The Bletchley Park Trust was formed some years back with a mission to preserve and develop Bletchley Park as a world-class museum, heritage site and education center. Designed to enhance the understanding of the critical contribution of Codebreaking and intelligence in World War Two, the birth of computing and electronic security, and how these unique achievements remain relevant today, the museum is now open for all the world to see and hear the incredible story of the inhabitants of Bletchley Park.