The mansion where codebreakers worked during World War II is now Bletchley Park museum. (AP)

The mansion where codebreakers worked during World War II is now Bletchley Park museum. (AP)

Former operator Jean Valentine stands in front of a restored Turing Bombe. During World War II, Turing Bombe machines cracked 3,000 enemy messages each day. (AP)

Former operator Jean Valentine stands in front of a restored Turing Bombe. During World War II, Turing Bombe machines cracked 3,000 enemy messages each day. (AP)

An Enigma machine is displayed at Bletchley Park museum. The German military used this machine to send secret, encrypted messages. (AP)

An Enigma machine is displayed at Bletchley Park museum. The German military used this machine to send secret, encrypted messages. (AP)

Two “cottages” at Bletchley Park were converted from a tack and feed house. Codebreakers worked in these buildings too.

Two “cottages” at Bletchley Park were converted from a tack and feed house. Codebreakers worked in these buildings too.

A model of an original Bombe machine used by British World War II code breakers is displayed at Bletchley Park museum. (AP)

A model of an original Bombe machine used by British World War II code breakers is displayed at Bletchley Park museum. (AP)

Bletchley Park Bail Out

Posted: January 1, 2021

To: Bletchley Park.

From: Facebook.

What: A lot of money.

Facebook has made a million-pound ($1.3 million) donation to Bletchley Park. What’s Bletchley Park? It’s not a spot with swings and slides. It’s a Victorian country house in England. Without Bletchley Park, Facebook wouldn’t exist. In fact, computers wouldn’t exist!

During World War II, codebreakers lived at Bletchley Park. They worked day and night on a top-secret mission. They knew their enemies—military officials from Nazi Germany—sent messages to each other. But they didn’t know what these messages said. The messages were encrypted (written in a secret code that mixes up letters of the alphabet).

 Eventually, the whizzes at Bletchley Park cracked Germany’s code. How? They invented a new type of computer! This invention helped other people develop the modern computers that we have today. Computers can solve problems a lot faster than people can. That engineering victory led to victory in the war.

After the war ended, Bletchley Park was turned into a museum. People went there to learn about coding. (Coding is how people give instructions to a computer. It’s also called computer programming.)

But now Bletchley Park is in trouble. Hundreds of thousands of people visit during a normal year—but 2020 has not been normal for anyone. Like places all over the world, Bletchley Park could not receive nearly as many visitors as usual during the coronavirus pandemic. It has lost almost all its income.

Steve Hatch is Facebook’s vice president for northern Europe. He says Facebook’s technologies wouldn’t exist without the work done at Bletchley Park. The donation will help keep the park running. It will let staff keep their jobs.

“Our hope is that Bletchley staying open inspires the next generation of engineers,” says Mr. Hatch.