Credit where credit’s due

Frustrated that the wrong people are given the plaudits?

Decades after Nazi Germany’s Enigma code was cracked, Poland has gone on the offensive to reclaim the glory of a cryptological success it feels has been unjustly claimed by Britain.

Frustrated at watching the achievements of the British wartime code-breakers at Bletchley Park lauded while those of Poles go overlooked, Poland’s parliament has launched a campaign to ”restore justice” to the Polish men and women who first broke the Enigma codes.

There’s the copyright issue which has been taken way too far as a money-grubbing exercise via rampant lawsuits and then there is real failure to acknowledge a debt of achievement or invention.   Edison springs to mind, as does Kutusov.

The latter was a fat Russian who was in the background during the masterminding of the scorched earth against Napoleon – the man who should be credited is Barclay de Tolly.   Now while the Russians do honour de Tolly, the credit for the Russian campaign is given to Kutusov.

You see, de Tolly was a Scottish Russian and the national saviour had to be Russian Russian.  Simple, eh?


During Napoleon’s Invasion of Russia in 1812 Barclay assumed the supreme command of the 1st Army of the West, the largest of the Russian armies facing Napoleon. He proposed the now famous scorched earth strategy of drawing the enemy deep into one’s own territory and retreated to the village of Tsaryovo-Zaimishche between Moscow and Smolensk.

Nevertheless, the Russians keenly opposed the appointment of a foreigner as commander-in-chief. His rivals spread rumors of him being Napoleon’s agent, and the populace condemned him as a coward. Barclay was forced by his subordinates and the Tsar to engage Napoleon at Smolensk (17 – 18 August 1812). Napoleon forced Barclay to retreat when he threatened Barclay’s only escape route.

After losing the Holy City of Smolensk, the outcry of officers and civilians grew to a point where the Tsar could no longer ignore it. He appointed Kutuzov, previously a general at the battle of Austerlitz, as the over-all commander of the Russian Forces. Barclay remained General of the 1st Army of the West.

[H/T Chuckles]

2 comments for “Credit where credit’s due

  1. dearieme
    October 31, 2012 at 13:24

    Enigma was kept secret for decades. I remember that when it became public knowledge the Poles were given lots of credit, and the French some too. So what on earth is the fuss about?

  2. October 31, 2012 at 19:38

    Then that’s the main thing – credit where credit’s due.

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