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Licence to Spy? BRIXMIS and the Search for the Robertson-Malinin Agreement

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A members' event (with guests) which is part of the Friends' online talks series exploring the collections held at The National Archives.

About this event

A little-known feature of the Cold War in Germany was the agreement between the occupying Four Powers to exchange bilateral military liaison missions. The Anglo-Soviet deal, known as the 'Robertson-Malinin Agreement', was finalised on 16th September 1946 and permitted the accreditation of 11 officers and 20 other ranks to the other party; the British Mission was always called 'BRIXMIS', and its Soviet counterpart was known as 'SOXMIS'. In April 1947 the French and then the Americans signed similar, but not identical, bilateral agreements with the Soviet commander-in-chief in Germany; their missions were limited to only 18 and 14 members.

For reasons that remain unclear the location of the original, signed version of the 'Robertson-Malinin Agreement' has for many years been unknown. Ongoing searches in the Foreign Office and Ministry of Defence, as well as in the Soviet archives in Moscow, have thus far failed to unearth an original, signed version. This talk will describe what has come to light in The National Archives about the process that produced the Agreement. This research has, for instance, shown that the use of BRIXMIS as an intelligence collection asset was envisaged from the earliest stage of that process, whereas it had long been assumed that this non-traditional 'liaison' activity had emerged after the collapse of the era of Four Power collaboration. The talk will also look at how 'liaison' protocols and restrictions developed over the course of more than four decades.


		Licence to Spy? BRIXMIS and the Search for the Robertson-Malinin Agreement image

Major General Peter Williams read history at Magdalene College, Cambridge before joining the Coldstream Guards and spending the next three decades or so serving in West Berlin, Northern Ireland, Oman, Hong Kong, and the former Yugoslavia. In the early 1980s he studied Russian and went on to serve two 2-year tours in the British Commanders'-in-Chief Mission to the Soviet Forces in Germany ('BRIXMIS') as a liaison officer. His final posting was in Moscow, where he set up and led the NATO Military Liaison Mission to the Russian Federation from 2002 to 2005. He is the Chairman of the BRIXMIS Association.


		Licence to Spy? BRIXMIS and the Search for the Robertson-Malinin Agreement image

Peter Williams and a Soviet officer relaxing in the Soviet Officers' Club in Potsdam in early 1982.


		Licence to Spy? BRIXMIS and the Search for the Robertson-Malinin Agreement image

Uniform shoulder patches of the three Allied Military Liaison Missions which operated in East Germany until 2nd October 1990.

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Organiser The Friends of The National Archives CIO

Organiser of Licence to Spy? BRIXMIS and the Search for the Robertson-Malinin Agreement

The Friends is a registered charity (1185971) and became operational as a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) in November 2020. It replaced the original unincorporated association charity (328630) established in 1988 to support the then Public Record Office, and subsequently The National Archives at Kew. The Charity's role is to continue the work of the old charity by supporting the work of The National Archives for public benefit through providing funding for projects to enable the public record to be made more easily accessible and for conservation projects. Funding is also provided for outreach and education projects to bring new audiences to the collections held at Kew that covers one thousand years of documented history. Practical support is given through volunteers to help transcribe the records and assist at events held at Kew. We hold events at Kew and online for members and organise external group visits to places of historical and archival importance. We have over one thousand members across the UK and overseas. Events at Kew and external visits are currently suspended and replaced by online events.

 

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