The British Commanders’-in-Chief Mission (BRIXMIS) to the Soviet Forces in Germany (GSFG) was set up on 16 September 1946 under the Robertson-Malinin Agreement between the chiefs of staff of the British and Soviet forces in occupied Germany.
The agreement called for the reciprocal exchange of liaison missions in order to foster good working relations between the military occupation authorities in the two zones. Similar agreements were then reached the following year by the Soviets with the French (FMLM) and the Americans (USMLM).
For unexplained reasons the agreements differed significantly as the British were allowed to have almost as many liaison staff in the Soviet Zone as the American and French Missions combined. The British mission also had the right to fly a light aircraft (to maintain the flying skills of any pilots stationed there) within a defined area. The agreements remained in force until 2 October 1990 when all three missions were deactivated on the eve of Germany’s reunification.
During the Cold War the right of the missions to travel relatively freely throughout East German territory was used for the purpose of gathering intelligence on all Warsaw Pact forces based there: installations; troop movements; equipment; morale and the like. The Missions did not run agents (unlike the reciprocal Russian Missions present in West Germany). The early 1960s (coinciding with the building of the Berlin Wall in 1961 and the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962) and the early 1980s (coinciding with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan 1979-89) were particularly difficult periods for the operational conduct of all the Missions as world events were replayed and reciprocated at the tactical level out on the ground. Hostility from various Soviet and East German security and counter-intelligence agencies resulted in the death of a member of the French Mission in 1984 and a member of the American Mission in 1985. This crescendo in hostility itself coincided with the arrival of Reagan and Gorbachev to power and the beginning of a thawing in East-West relation culminating in the ’fall’ of the Berlin Wall in November 1989.