The Slovenia Times

Enigma centrepiece of new show at military museum

Science & Education
Enigma - The Hidden Backstage of the War exhibition at the Museum of Military History.
Photo:Rosana Rijavec/STA

The Park of Military History in Pivka has opened an exhibition about Enigma, a cipher device that German forces used during World War II. An Enigma found in a sunken ship in the Adriatic is the centrepiece of the exhibition.

"This is one of the largest exhibition projects in the park's history and the first time we have shed light on this historically important topic in Slovenia," museum director Janko Boštjančič said at the exhibition's launch on 13 April.

German soldiers were told to do anything to protect these machines with their lives so they would not be taken by the enemy as the device was a key part of the blitzkrieg warfare strategy.

Even though its code was deemed unbreakable by the Germans, allied scientists managed to crack it and keep tabs on the German troops. "Breaking the Enigma code was a key factor contributing to the end result of World War II," Boštjančič noted.

Only a handful of machines have been preserved. The M4 model, which was used by the navy, is extremely rare but one of them has found its way into the Pivka museum in the south-west of the country in 2021.

It was discovered by diver Zvone Kralj in the 1980s in a wrecked German minesweeper, which sunk off the coast of Istria. Kralj gave the machine to his colleague Danijel Germek in 2020 and he entrusted it to the museum.

The demanding conservation procedure was carried out by Aleš Jelinčič from the Slovenian Museum of Contemporary History together with experts from the International Centre for Underwater Archaeology in Zadar, Croatia, and the National Museum of Slovenia.

The exhibition will be on display for at least a year. Apart from the cipher machine and its full story, visitors will be able to take a closer look at other artefacts found in the sunken minesweeper.

The Park of Military History is the largest museum complex in Slovenia. Its exhibits range from the oldest longbows to a collection of tanks and military aircraft, a German WWII military locomotive and a submarine that it is possible to to take a look at from the inside.


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