Elimination of Said Halim Pasha – From the Memoirs of Arshavir Shirakyan

Elimination of Said Halim Pasha

Said Halim Pasha was the Great Vizier of the Ottoman Empire and one of the leaders of the Young Turks, the organizers of the Armenian Genocide.

On December 5, 1921, he was killed by Arshavir Shirakyan in Rome. Shirakyan then managed to safely return to Constantinople.

Excerpts from the memoirs of Arshavir Shirakyan (1900-1973) tell how the criminal was shot.

“On December 5, 1921, I got up very early. Shaved, took a bath. Poured on me half a bottle of cologne. All my clothes, from underwear to the hat, were brand-new. I put on a black tie like those worn by students and artists. It was like I was going to a wedding.

I put my coat on and, without visiting Merzhanov, went to the Pasha’s palace. I decided to finish the job on the same day without thinking about the consequences.

At exactly one o’clock in the afternoon, a carriage stopped in front of the Pasha’s house. Tevfik Azmi with a briefcase under his arm stepped out and entered the house. A little later, he came out with the Pasha, and they hurried off. This did not bother me since I was sure that the Pasha would not give up the afternoon walk and would return at the latest in two hours.

I went to Villa Borghese which he usually bypassed when returning on foot or by carriage. At around 12 o’clock, Merzhanov appeared and asked why I hadn’t come to dinner in our student canteen where we usually met at noon and in the evenings.

I replied, “Because today, it is necessary to complete the mission under any circumstances and at any cost.”

I was angry because the Pasha was late. I told Grigor, “I’m going to the house.” “Good,” he answered, and we went out.

At the corner, we noticed a bus and ran after it. I managed to get onto the footboard, but heavy Grigor lagged behind. I left the bus on Villa Nomentana and walked towards Eostanio Street. The usually deserted street was busy – workers were coming home after the workday.

I heard the noises of an approaching carriage. A shiver ran through my body when I saw huge horses with manes swaying in the wind. Said Halim Pasha and his bodyguard were sitting in the carriage.

I looked across the street. Merzhanov was not here yet.

I ran onto the opposite sidewalk, scarcely avoiding being crushed by the horses. I extended my hand and grabbed the reins – the horses wheezed, and the carriage stopped. In the rising turmoil, I jumped onto the carriage and nearly lost my balance…

While the bodyguard was speaking with the coachman, apparently trying to understand why the crew had stopped, Said Halim’s gaze met mine. “Yeren,” he addressed his bodyguard. This was the last word spoken by him.

His eyes filled with horror when I pointed a gun at his right temple and fired. Another bullet was not required. Pasha prostrated on the seat.

The carriage was still moving. Tevfik Azmi who came to his senses after the first shock pulled out a gun and was just about to shoot. But I aimed the barrel of my gun at his forehead and shouted in Turkish:

“Drop your gun, or I will kill you…”

He obediently threw the gun out of the window. I hit the coachman’s back with the pistol’s grip and shouted “Asreta! Asreta!” (“Stop!”). The unhappy man trembled with fear and in despair tried to explain to me that the horses did not want to stop…”




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