uring the Second World War, the Third Reich used an innovative way to code and decode messages through the Enigma machine. This was developed due to a lesson being learned from their communications being intercepted during the First World War as unencrypted communication led to many of the German plans in World War One being countered due to Allied intelligence intercepting their messages. The Enigma Machine was a very complicated encryption machine that would change the way it encrypted data daily. This was done randomly making the allied codebreakers’ jobs much harder. Codebreakers were stuck on finding out how the machine worked, but with some luck, one was captured by the allies and was sent to be studied. This combined with the fact that all transmissions were ended with “Heil Hitler” would mean that the allied codebreakers had some idea of what was being said but not a definite answer on how to break it.
This is where Turing comes in. With his expertise in maths and the use of newly improved computing technology, Turing managed to use the rotation of the encryption key as well as the “Heil Hitler” at the end of each message to break the Enigma code on 5th September 1941. The Germans were not aware of this until very late into the war which allowed the Allies a very big advantage whenever they performed any tactical moves as they could avoid and profit from the information gained by intercepting the messages.
Instead of being celebrated as a national hero at the time, Turing was shunned from society after the war. As homosexuality wasn’t accepted back in the 40s due to Turing being gay, he was abused by his own country. Being accused of indecency with another man thus forcing him into being chemically castrated and undergoing therapy trying to reverse his sexuality. He would later kill himself with a cyanide pill due to the mental strain the persecution put on him
I find this to be the ultimate slap in the face for Turing. After helping to break what, at the time, was one of the hardest codes in the world to help your country win a war against their enemies instead of being paraded as a hero around the country, he is incarcerated due to his sexuality. I find it such a waste as Turing made some very great leaps in computer science and robotics, creating the now well-known Turing test which is meant to be used to test an Artificial Intelligence on its sentience.
The United Kingdom government only apologised in 2009 after John Graham-Cumming, a British programmer, created a petition to the government asking for an official apology of Turing’s treatment. Even so, he was never posthumously pardoned as in 2009 Justice Minister Lord McNally said that:
“A posthumous pardon was not considered appropriate as Alan Turing was properly convicted of what at the time was a criminal offence. He would have known that his offence was against the law and that he would be prosecuted.”
Therefore leaving Turing’s case without justice and proper appreciation for his massive contribution to the war effort.