On March 15, 1921, in Berlin, Soghomon Tehlirian assassinated Talaat Pasha, one of the criminals responsible for the 1915 Armenian Genocide.
“Painfully focused on the idea of finding Talaat, I didn’t see any other meaning for my existence. While this monster was alive, my oath wouldn’t let me be at peace. The nights were accompanied by nightmares, in which I saw my mother. I have dreamed of her almost every night in various situations and conditions, but she always said the same thing: ‘death to Talaat’.”
Soghomon Tehlirian is a national hero who shot down one of the main organizers of the Armenian Genocide. Tehlirian was born in the village of Nerkin Bagarij, Erzurum Vilayet, Ottoman Empire, on April 2, 1896. In 1912, Tehlirian graduated from the Kedronakan academy in Yerznka and departed to Europe to continue his education. However, with the beginning of WWI, he returned to Armenia to fight in volunteer Armenian units, including the regiment of Andranik Ozanian.
After the end of the war, Tehlirian was sent to Berlin by the Dashnaktsutyun party within the scope of Operation Nemesis. On March 15, 1921, he assassinated Talaat Pasha in the Charlottenburg district of Berlin before the eyes of numerous witnesses. Tehlirian didn’t leave the scene and was arrested by the German police.
The trial of Tehlirian would become a world sensation. He was advocated by three lawyers. The court reviewed not only the actions of Tehlirian but also the figure of Talaat as one of the main perpetrators of the Armenian Genocide. The defense of Tehlirian didn’t attempt to deny the fact of his murder, instead focusing on the influence of the Genocide on Tehlirian’s mental state. In over an hour, the jury announced their verdict “not guilty.” The trial had a great impact on a Polish lawyer Raphael Lemkin who would coin the term “genocide.”
After the vindication, Tehlirian moved to the US where he would marry his compatriot Anahit Tatikian. Tehlirian died on May 23, 1960, in San Francisco.