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Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy: Espionage during the Cold War

The Intelligence Workers' Gamble

BRIXMIS vehicle on its side after being hit in a fieldOverturned BRIXMIS car A warning sign that reads taking photos is not allowed, in four languages: English, French, Russian and GermanWarning sign in the GDR Intelligence gathering during the Cold War was not without its risks. Many agents encountered great hazards in their attempts to gather vital intelligence to aid in the development of future military equipment and tactics for the West.

In the BRIXMIS group the most common occurrence of 'accidents' was the purposeful ramming of the liaison cars by the Eastern German and Soviet militaries.

This was done to prevent the mission group from carrying out further intelligence gathering by destroying their vehicle and injuring the officers. In many cases these accidents resulted in serious injury and, in some worse cases, death.

Aerial picture of a Soviet pictured next to a military tank aiming his rifle directly at the cameraSoviet officer aims his weapon at an RAF plane As GDR officials began to come realise that these liaison mission were being exploited by the British for espionage purposes, restricted zones began to emerge. Any intelligence officer who was caught disobeying the restricted signs ran the risk of being fired upon.

Aerial intelligence gathering was also not without its risks.

In many cases ground forces of the opposing espionage group would use spy planes as target practice, shooting their weapons at the moving plane.

In some reported incidents, bullets hit and pierced the shell of these planes, making aerial intelligence gathering just as risky for those in the air as it was for those working on the ground.

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