“My father was not a murderer. He told me the story of the assassination of Mehmed Talaat Pasha when I was 10 years old,” said the son of Soghomon Tehlirian, whose name wasn’t disclosed at his own request, in an interview with the British newspaper “The Independent .”
The British newspaper notes that the 86-year-old son of the Armenian hero who avenged all the Armenian people has lived in the United States since childhood. Tehlirian with his wife and children had moved from Yugoslavia to the US in the 1940s. Even in the distant past, he had to change his name and surname, fearing the revenge of the Turkish nationalists.
“Father never liked to talk much. But I and my elder brother forced him to tell what had happened in Berlin in 1921 and how he had decided to assassinate the main culprit and organizer of the Armenian Genocide in 1915, Talaat Pasha,” said the younger son in the interview.
Soghomon Tehlirian was a modest man – he wrote poems, read poetry, and used to work in the coffee business in Yugoslavia before moving to America and beginning a completely new life. In the 1950s, he began giving speeches at Armenian community events in Boston, New York, and Cleveland, telling about the terrible events of the early 20th century.
The son of Soghomon Tehlirian also said that many facts from the father’s life are exaggerated and do not correspond to reality. For example, he and his brothers were not in Western Armenia in 1915 – they actually were in Serbia. During the genocide, the mother and many other relatives of Tehlirian were killed.
After the assassination of Talaat Pasha in Berlin in 1921, Soghomon Tehlirian was arrested by the German authorities. The trial of Tehlirian and his acquittal became a real sensation. He was defended by three lawyers. Not only Tehlirian’s actions were considered – Talaat’s role in organizing the atrocious massacres of the Armenian civilian population became the object of consideration of the court as well.
The court heard numerous witnesses who gave details of the extermination of Armenians. This lawsuit had a tremendous impact on Polish lawyer Raphael Lemkin who would later coin the term “genocide.”