Displays - BRIXMIS


At the end of World War II Germany was divided into Occupation Zones by the four wartime Allies (Britain, France, the United States and the Soviet Union). An Allied Agreement for 'The Control Machinery in Germany' provided for the exchange of Military Liaison Missions between the respective Occupation Zones. The British and the Soviets were the first to implement this on 16 September 1946 and BRIXMIS established its Headquarters at Potsdam in the Soviet Occupied Zone while the Soviets had their Mission at Bad Salzuflen in the British Zone, which later moved to Bunde. The object of these Missions was to maintain liaison between the staffs of the two Commanders-in-Chief and their Military Governments in their respective Zones. The United States and France later concluded similar liaison agreements with the Soviets.

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The British Commander-in-Chief's Mission to the Soviet Forces in Germany

By Angus Southwood

This little known intelligence organisation worked throughout the Cold War years from 1946 to 1990 gathering intelligence in the former Soviet Occupation Zone of East Germany on the threat posed to the West and NATO by the 20 Soviet and 6 East German Army Divisions and their Air Forces deployed there.

It worked in conjunction with the Missions of the USA and France to provide the only on-ground professional assessment by military observers of the intentions and capabilities of the Soviet and East German Forces. An important part of its role was to detect and give early warning of any indication of a Soviet intention to mount an attack on the West. Over the 43 years the Mission was in existence it achieved many intelligence "scoops" by observing the Soviet Forces on manoeuvres at close quarters and photographing first sightings of new equipment from which western analysts could make assessments of the threat it presented to the West.

In the Museum the work of the Mission is explained in detail by means of a striking wall display and a figure scene. Full detail is also provided by an Interactive System on how the Mission was organised and equipped and how it operated. It also reveals the details of the harassment, detentions, ramming and shooting incidents which the Soviets and East German Intelligence Services used against them.

Outside the Museum a fully restored touring vehicle as used by the Mission can be seen as well as a Soviet Signals Intelligence vehicle which was used to intercept the radio communications of the Forces of the Western Allies stationed in West Germany.

The BRIXMIS story will be covered in more detail in a series of separate articles that will appear here from time to time. Many will be written by former members of BRIXMIS.

The Mission