Ludwgislust, Germany
Site of the Shooting of Major Arthur D. Nicholson Jr. of the U.S. Military Liaison Mission to East Germany by a Soviet Soldier

The following maps, ground photographs and overhead photography depict the site at which a Group of Soviet Forces Germany (GSFG) sentry, Junior Sergeant Aleksandr Ryabtsev, shot and killed USMLM Ground Tour Officer Major Arthur D. “Nick” Nicholson, USA, on 24 March 1985.


Soviet tank shed near Ludwigslust, vicinity of Route 191, site of 1985 shooting.

UTM coordinates Zone 32 N, East 667426, North 5907889 (32N667426E5907889N)
World Geodetic System 84 Latlong 11°30'44.6''E,  53°17'37.6' N (GEOCOORD:113044.6E531737.6)

In 1994 Colonel Richard M. Naab USA (center, white shirt), who had served as the last Chief of USMLM, took the initiative to emplace a commemorative plaque at the site where Major Nicholson fell – a few meters south of the vehicle sheds. Regrettably, by early 1998 the plaque had disappeared. An investigation by the Polizei in Ludwigslust failed to determine either its disposition or the identity of the responsible individual(s).  A new plaque will be installed near by on 24 March 2005 by The Allied Museum in Berlin. 

Commemorative plaque placed at site in 1994 and subsequently stolen.

MfS (Stasi) sketch of shooting incident.


Red arrow points out shooting site outside of Soviet Permanent Restricted Area (PRA) near Ludwigslust.


This overhead photograph, which virtually replicates the map below, depicts the site in ca. 1991. No significant differences between this shot and the lay of the land in 1985 are evident. The red pin marks the location of the range tower/vehicle sheds.  Click on photo for larger image.


Commercial satellite image of the Ludwigslust area; pin identifies site of shooting.  Click on photo for larger image.


Map of shooting site inside red circle.
Click on map for larger image.


This map shows the location relative to the city of the facility that MAJ Nicholson and SSG Jesse Schatz USA were reconnoitering.  Click on map for larger image.


This map shows the approach route westward from the F-5 (now the B-5) taken by the Tour to reach the head of the subcaliber range, where a range tower and vehicle sheds stood. Blue shading indicates the range and other major Soviet facilities located nearby. A PRA extended north from the F-191 (B-191). Initial Soviet claims notwithstanding, the range and training area south of that road were not located within a restricted area at the time of the shooting, although a TRA containing them had expired shortly beforehand.
Click on map for larger image.


1991 Bundeswehr map of Ludwigslust Soviet Range, courtesy of T. Bellgardt.  Click on image for closeup.


  1. The source of the cartography in this file is the Top50: Mecklenburg-Vorpommern – Amtliche Topographische Karten, Version 3, 2000. The Top50 series is a set of high-quality digital maps (scales – from 1:50,000 to 1:1,000,000, plus an overview) produced by EADS Dornier GmbH for the Landesvermessungsamt of each German Bundesland. The maps are available for purchase from those offices - one CD per Land.  NB: As can be seen above, the instructions and controls are in German.
  2. The source of the overhead photography shown above is D-SAT 2 – Satellitenatlas für Deutschland produced by Topware CD Service AG. D-SAT is based on commercially available Kosmos (i.e., Soviet) satellite imagery from ca. 1991 – or, for certain locations, slightly earlier. Starting with version D-SAT 2, the product has also included recent, larger-scale, color aerial photography, but only of major metropolitan areas. (The newest versions – D-SAT 7 is the latest – even feature a flight simulator!) D-SAT products are now available on DVDs as well as CD-ROMs. They can be purchased directly in many German computer stores (and occasionally, even in Aldi) or ordered via (but not normally NB: Again, the instructions and controls are in German.

More to come...

Courtesy L.G. Kelley

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