No image
  • Jul 24, 1909
    (b.) -
    Jan 9, 1942
    (d.)

Bio/Description

A Polish mathematician and cryptologist who worked at breaking German Enigma-machine ciphers, he was born in what is now Ukraine, the fourth and youngest child of Zygmunt Różycki, a pharmacist and graduate of Saint Petersburg University, and Wanda, née Benita. He attended a Polish school in Kiev before moving with his family to Poland in 1918. In 1926 he completed secondary school at Wyszków on eastern Poland's Bug River. He studied mathematics 1927–1932 in western Poland, at Poznań University's Mathematics Institute, graduating with a master's degree February 19, 1932. He would later earn a second master's degree from Poznań University, in Geography, on December 13, 1937. In 1929, while still a student, he being proficient in German, was one of twenty-odd Poznań University mathematics students who accepted an invitation to attend a secret cryptology course organized at a nearby military installation by the Polish General Staff's Cipher Bureau, housed till 1937 in Warsaw's Saxon Palace. From September 1932 he served there as a civilian cryptologist. He worked there together with fellow Poznań University mathematics alumni and Cipher Bureau cryptology-course graduates Marian Rejewski and Henryk Zygalski. After Rejewski had reconstructed the German military Enigma machine in December 1932, he and Zygalski likewise worked at ongoing development of methods and equipment to exploit Enigma decryption as a source of intelligence. He invented the "clock" method, which sometimes made it possible to determine which of the machine's rotors was at the far right, that is, in the position where the rotor always revolved at every depression of a key. He perished in the Mediterranean Sea on January 9, 1942, while returning to the Cadix center, near Uzès in southern, Vichy France, from a stint at its branch office at the Château Couba on the outskirts of Algiers. His passenger ship, the Lamoricière, sank in unclear circumstances near the Balearic Islands. Fellow victims of the disaster, among the 222 passengers killed, included Piotr Smoleński and Capt. Jan Graliński, of the prewar Cipher Bureau's Russian section, and a French officer accompanying the three Poles, Capt. François Lane. In “Turing’s Cathedral” by George Dyson it is noted that he, along with Henryk Zygalski, and Marian Rejewski, “…assisted by French intelligence and an interest in the German Enigma dating back to an interception by Polish customs officers in 1928, narrowed the search for rotor configurations so that electromechanical devices (called “bombas” by the Poles and “bombes” by the British) could apply trial and error to certain subsets that remained.”
  • Date of Birth:

    Jul 24, 1909
  • Date of Death:

    Jan 9, 1942
  • Gender:

    Male
  • Noted For:

    Inventor of the "clock" method, which sometimes made it possible to determine which of the Enigma machine's rotors was at the far right, that is, in the position where the rotor always revolved at every depression of a key
  • Category of Achievement:

  • More Info: