Photo of a Hearing of the Case of Soghomon Tehlirian

Photo of a Hearing of the CaseThis unique photograph was taken in June 1921 in Berlin during one of the court hearings on the case of the assassination of former Ottoman Interior Minister Talaat Pasha.

In order to punish the Young Turk leaders who were guilty of committing crimes against Armenians, Operation Nemesis had been developed.

On March 15, 1921, Soghomon Tehlirian in Berlin shot Talaat Pasha. The latter had moved to Germany where he was living in conspiratorial conditions, having changed his appearance and personal data.

In June 1921, a trial was held in Berlin on the case of the murder of Talaat Pasha, which lasted two days. During the trial, high-ranking German officer Liman von Sanders, well-known public figure Johannes Lepsius, and Armenians who had survived the Genocide testified against Talaat.

In order to prove the crimes of Talaat, the defenders presented the originals of the telegrams through which he had given orders on the deportation and extermination of Armenians.

On the basis of the facts and testimony given above, the German court found Tehlirian not guilty. A young Jewish lawyer Rafael Lemkin also participated in these court hearings. For him, the Tehlirian case became fateful.

In 1944, being already an experienced lawyer, Lemkin proposed the term “genocide” and gave a characteristic to this crime. Thanks to his efforts and direct participation, the UN General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide in 1948.

Soghomon Tehlirian is only a symbol, a particle in which the pain of the outcast people has concentrated and which in hopeless self-defense carries out its revenge.”

Armin Theophil Wegner, German officer who served in the years 1915-1916 in the Ottoman army, an eyewitness to the Armenian Genocide

Photo source: Tessa Hofmann, “Armenier in Berlin – Berlin und Armenien”, Berlin, 2005. From the catalog “100 photo stories about the Armenian Genocide”

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