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Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy: Espionage during the Cold War
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Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy: Espionage during the Cold War

Single LGM-118A Peacekeeper missile in its first stage of launch, with the rocket ignited and clearing its siloLGM-118A ‘Peacekeeper’ missileThe Cold War was an era of ideological rivalry between the countries who had united during World War Two to defeat Germany and its partners.  The Eastern Bloc (the Soviet Union and its satellite states) spent the years between 1947 and 1991 opposed to the Western Bloc (the United States and its allies through the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation NATO).

The rivalry was maintained through the periodic build-up and development of military resources by both blocs. Forces proliferated with each side striving to outmatch constant technological advances made by their ideological rivals.

With these fluctuating military developments, each side saw it as imperative to make sure they were not left behind. Intelligence gathering came to be seen as vital to the survival of states trying to shift the balance of power in their favour.

Two BRIXMIS Officers, one with binoculars, one with a camera, both focused on the skyline in hopes of capturing pictures of a Eastern military aircraftBRIXMIS Officers in ActionThis exhibition concentrates on this crucial area of espionage work during the Cold War, with particular emphasis on those unfamiliar episodes and expanses not covered in the conventional historical narrative.

The following pages have taken advantage of the expanse of primary source material housed within the Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives a part of King’s College London Archives.

The archives contain a wide-ranging collection of declassified government documents related to espionage, including military reports, incident reports, daily accounts and photographs from those intelligence workers operating in the field.

These accounts cover Cold War incidents that were not made known to the public until recently, including: the daily threats and skirmishes undertaken by the British military liaison (known as BRIXMIS); the 1966 Firebar Incident; and the role of intelligence workers in de-escalating the tensions caused during NATO’s Able Archer exercise in 1983.

This exhibition draws upon the BRIXMIS Association, Menaul and 1983: The Brink of Apocalypse archive collections and was curated by Luke Lyons, MA student in Modern History.

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