Comment by Lawrence G. Kelley, Col USMC (Ret.)
A section of your website (Collections->Western Military Missions) contains two Stasi documents on the 1985 shooting (killing) by a Soviet sentry in Ludwigslust, GDR, of US Army Major Arthur D. Nicholson, a member of the US Military Liaison Mission to CINC GSFG. The media flashed reporting of Nicholson's death around the world, and the shooting prompted Gorbachev's first foreign policy crisis. However, interesting as the Stasi's internal documentation may be, it contains factual errors. The Stasi was not present on site to trail the Tour Vehicle, nor did its personnel observe the shooting (which the MfS documentation neglects to mention). Rather, MfS officers simply repeated verbatim the account of the shooting provided by GSFG. HQ GSFG, for its part, consciously falsified its account of events (including its reporting to the General Staff in Moscow) in an effort to protect the Command and conceal the multiple blunders of its personnel (incl. those in the command echelon) - a point that has come to light via revelations of former Soviet sources in the period since the fall of the USSR.
In discussions of the events that occurred at Ludwigslust, especially those conducted in Internet fora, one often hears such assertions as"the truth about the incident will only be known, once the then-superpowers open their archives." Such statements reflect ignorance of the situation, as the US has already done so. The contents of that "archive" correspond exactly to the public account of the shooting the the US provided at the time. In other words, no "cover-up" of events on the US side occurred at all. Additional information on the shooting has indeed emerged in the period since 1985, but it only fleshes out our picture of events - it does not contradict the information that we had and revealed at the time.
I personally wrote the official account of the Nicholson shooting in 1986, and in 2004 USAREUR declassified the document and made it publicly available online. (The delay in declassification was prompted by bureaucratic lethargy and relative priorities, not by security considerations.) It appears as Annex F (Nicholson Shooting Negotiations) to the 1885 USMLM Unit History. This document, like nearly all the other annual histories that USMLM produced during the years of its existence, can be read at/downloaded from: http://www.history.hqusareur.army.mil/uslmannual.htm Recommend that you consider adding Annex F to your collection.
Regrettably, those responsible for the proofreading and preparation of Annex F for publication inserted a handful of stylistic errors into the text, but such errors will be obvious to the reader. If you would like to see a cleaner copy of the portion of Annex F that pertains to the Nicholson shooting itself, I can provide one to you. In 2005, I used it as a press handout for the dedication of a memorial to Nicholson in Ludwigslust, an event organized and conducted by the AlliiertenMuseum-Berlin.
As background for you, I served as the Naval Representative and acting Deputy Chief of USMLM from. Nicholson shared an office with me during the final year of his service in the Mission. From the day of the shooting until a year later, my principal duties involved the handling of issues related to the shooting and conduct of the negotiations with the Soviets that followed.
Lawrence G. Kelley (lgkelley (at) vr-web.de)