King's College London
Exhibitions & Conferences
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy: Espionage during the Cold War


Copy of the Robertson-Malinin Agreement, page 1Robertson-Malinin agreement Copy of the Robertson-Malinin Agreement, page 2page 2 of Robertson-Malinin At the end of the Second World War Germany was divided into four separate zones of occupation: British, French, American and Russian.

With Russia’s increasing hostility to the Western zones, the need to organise some mechanism to facilitate liaison between the Western and Soviet governments soon became apparent, in order to continue the flow of seemingly friendly relations between the zones.

The British began negotiating with the Soviets and it was agreed between the two that an exchange of mission groups to patrol the opposing side’s zone would be organised. The resulting Robertson-Malinin Agreement came into effect on 16 September 1946.

The agreement allowed for the British liaison group named BRIXMIS, short for British Commanders’-in-Chief Mission, to freely explore the Soviet zone of Germany, later known as the German Democratic Republic (GDR).

BRIXMIS, and their Soviet counterpart, SOXMIS, continued their exchanges up until 1990 when agreements between West Germany, known as the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) and the GDR, sought negotiations for a Unification Treaty.

BRIXMIS Christmas card with a picture of the BRIXMIS officers, caption read,‘With Best Wishes for a Happy Christmas and New YearBRIXMIS Christmas Card The BRIXMIS group soon began to take advantage of the freedom of movement permitted under the Robinson-Malinin Agreement whilst operating in the Eastern zone. 

Whilst active, BRIXMIS was used to gather intelligence from the GDR, which was heavily reinforced with advanced Soviet military equipment on account of its geographical positioning on the front line of the ‘Iron Curtain.’

BRIXMIS reported on troop movements and garrisons, military technological advancements and major structural changes in the landscape, in the hopes of identifying the location of GDR missile silos used to house nuclear arms.

Although BRIXMIS was, eventually, restricted from travelling to some areas within the GDR, the liaison group would often gather military intelligence through reconnaissance and surveillance within these restricted areas, making them a valuable source of information for the British government and their allied states in NATO throughout the Cold War.

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