Assassination of Talaat Pasha – Soghomon Tehlirian’s Memoirs

Assassination of Talaat PashaIn the morning, I got up earlier than usual. The sunrays had already reached the windows of the house across the street. I had just finished drinking tea and was about to move the chair to the window when I suddenly saw Talaat on the balcony of the opposite house. I froze: is it him? Yes, it is…

Talaat took a few steps, carefully inspected the street and, as if weighed down by some thoughts, hung his head. Apparently, his life hasn’t been easy after committing an unheard-of crime.

In any case, five or six years later, fear still followed him relentlessly. On his broad shoulders, he carried two death sentences: one issued by the Constantinople Military Tribunal and the other by the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, the “Dashnaktsutyun” party.

The first probably had only a moral meaning for him: in his native country, instead of receiving praise for his “patriotic” acts, he had been sentenced to death like an ordinary criminal.

But time could correct this “misunderstanding”, the future generations would realize the significance of what he had done… if it had not been for the sentence of the “Dashnaktsutyun” party.

Still, he had failed to eliminate all the leaders of this party. But who had survived from those whom he had known personally? Factually, it had only been Garegin Pastrmajian. Did he remember his last conversation with him?

He raised his arm – thick as a yoke – rubbed his forehead, and went inside. I looked at the watch: 10 AM. That’s when he usually went to Uhlandstraße.

I took the weapon, getting ready to go out. Unexpectedly for me, he appeared at the door and, stepping heavily like an elephant, began to go down the street.

When I came out, Talaat was heading towards of Uhlandstraße on the opposite sidewalk. My cold mind told me that he wouldn’t escape me this time.

“Catch up! Run! Go to the opposite sidewalk and – suddenly, from behind, in the back, in the head! Quick, cross the street…”

I came down from the sidewalk to the pavement to approach him from behind, but something suddenly stopped me: an obvious thing that had been proven a thousand times seemed doubtful to me at that instant: was it him?

“Approach from the front, the front, the front – and right in the forehead. Hurry, hurry, run…”

Walking on the opposite sidewalk, I first caught up with him and then with quick steps significantly outstripped him and moved to the sidewalk on which Talaat walked. I went towards him. We approached each other. He walked, as if strolling, shaking his cane carelessly.

There was a short distance between us – and an amazing calmness seized my whole being. When we got close, Talaat looked at me point-blank: in his eyes, the horror of death flashed. He did not take the last step and deviated a little, but I instantly pulled out the weapon and shot him in the head…

Talaat as if froze: for a moment, his huge body strained, and he, staggering like a sawed oak, crashed down onto his face. Somewhere nearby, a woman screamed and fell down and a man ran in her direction.

I could have never imagined to myself that the beast would so easily fall to the ground. At some point, I had a desire to unload all the bullets into his back, but instead of firing, I dropped the gun. Black viscous blood instantly formed a puddle around Talaat’s head, as if black oil had spilled from a broken vessel.

“He killed a man!” I heard.

I looked up, down, in all directions – people stood everywhere and looked at me.

“He killed a man, catch him!” someone shouted and, spreading his arms, rushed towards me.

“Catch him! Catch him!” shouted the others…

I walked past them: no one tried to stop me. But when the screams from behind intensified, my nerves suddenly surrendered, and I, not knowing why, rushed to the next street. With unbelievable noise, people were chasing me. I ran. Someone from the people running towards me grabbed me.

Probably, I could have disappeared if I had thought about it beforehand or had such an intention.

The crowd immediately surrounded me. I did not understand what they wanted from me: they shouted, they brandished their fists, but I didn’t care about any of them.

One dragged me, another began to strike mercilessly. An armed fist dropped to my head: my eyes darkened, and I knelt down in order not to fall. Blood flooded my face, a lot of arms and legs landed on me, and I shouted in helpless fury:

“What do you want? I am an Armenian, he is a Turk, it does not concern you…”

Suddenly, the crowd moved aside, and a policeman lifted me up onto my feet.

Soghomon Tehlirian

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