Aram Yerganian (1900-1934) was an activist of the Armenian national liberation movement and a member of the Dashnaktsutyun party.
During the Armenian Genocide of 1915, Yerganian was in Karin but soon left with the Russian troops for the Caucasus. In 1917, he joined the ranks of Armenian volunteers. Shortly after, he was appointed a quartermaster in the Russian army. During his service, Yerganian participated in the Bash Abaran Battle in May 1918.
In 1919, Yerganian arrived in Constantinople with a secret mission. There, he met outstanding Armenian social and political leader and writer Shahan Natalie (Hagop Der-Hagopian, 1884 – 1983). This meeting turned out to be extremely important for both of them.
“It immediately seemed to me that I had known him since childhood. No, this guy is special, my heart told me,” Yerganian wrote about Natalie.
Yerganian arrived in Constantinople when he was an active member of the organization “Nemesis”, which occupies some of the brilliant pages of the national liberation struggle of the Armenian people.
To carry out a special operation, a governing body was formed, headed by Armenian Ambassador to the United States Armen Garo (Garegin Pastermadjian). The operational management and material support of the operation was entrusted to Shahan Natalie.
Natalie immediately took up the search for reliable people capable of performing the responsible mission. First of all, he decided to involve Aram Yerganian. And although Yerganian was the youngest in the group, it was he who was entrusted with the first act of “Nemesis”. Soghomon Tehlirian (1896 – 1960) accomplished his feat – the assassination of Talaat Pasha – later than Yerganian, on March 15, 1921.
So, the first victim of Yerganian was chosen to be the former Prime Minister of Azerbaijan Fatali Khan Khoisky, who had personally given the order for the monstrous massacre of Armenians in Baku on September 15-17, 1918, in which 30 thousand people had been killed.
The operation was performed brilliantly. On June 19, 1920, Khoisky was shot dead while on a walk on Golovinsky Avenue in Tiflis together with another executioner of the Armenian people, former Interior Minister and then Minister of Justice of Azerbaijan Khalil Bey Khasmammadov. Khasmammadov was seriously wounded by Yerganian.
The head of the operation Shahan Nathalie writes in his memoirs:
“Only those who knew Khan Khoisky and who were familiar with his history could appreciate the courage of Aram. Accompanied by his retinue, Khan was walking through the streets of Tiflis, ignoring the sentence given by Armenians. After all, all attempts on his life had ended in failure. An experienced and arrogant beast, he did not take into account that in front of him, breaking the armored chain of bodyguards, Aram would face him one-on-one and execute the just sentence.
Although Aram was wounded under the hail of bullets, he managed to prove that he was as clever and cunning as he was brave…”
In addition, Yerganian eliminated well-known Musavat figures Sarafov and Kasymbekov and injured Mamedov. It was a revenge on the executioners for all their atrocities, including the Baku pogroms and the terrible massacre in Shusha on March 23, 1920, in which about 30 thousand Armenians were killed.
And finally, the most famous feat of Aram. According to the plan of Operation Nemesis, Shahan Natalie commissioned him to eliminate Dr. Behaeddin Shakir. Yerganian found out that Shakir was close with Jemal Azmi. After a long search, Yerganian managed to get on the trail of these Turkish monsters.
On April 17, 1922, in Berlin, Aram Yerganian and Arshavir Shirakian (1900-1973) assassinated the former governor of Trabzon Jemal Azmi and the founder and leader of the criminal organization Teşkilât-ı Mahsusa (“Special Organization”) Behaeddin Shakir. One of Shakir’s guards was also killed.
These two Turkish figures were perhaps the most bloodthirsty Pan-Turkist leaders. The list of their atrocities is terrifying. The significance of the feat accomplished by Yerganian is thus higher.
Despite all the attempts, the German police could not find the Armenian heroes. The next day, a photograph from the morgue was published in all Berlin newspapers, which showed the bodies of the murdered executioners.
Finally, Yerganian was able to sigh in relief. “I felt light as if a mountain squeezing my chest had finally fallen off me. Retribution has happened. My vow given to martyrs is fulfilled,” he later wrote in his memoirs. Armenian avengers successfully completed Operation Nemesis.
During the operation’s implementation, there was not a single failure. All the executioners were terminated. Justice prevailed. Moreover, in carrying out the acts of retaliation against the murderers, not a single bystander was injured.
After the establishment of Soviet power in the Caucasus, Yerganian moved to Romania and lived there for several years. In Bucharest, he established the newspaper “Armenia” and served as its editor. In 1927, he emigrated to Argentina, settling in the city of Cordoba.
Here, Yerganian also organized the publication of an Armenian newspaper under the same name “Armenia”, which continues to be published to this day. In addition, in Argentina, he wrote a fascinating book of memories “So We Have Revenged”, which tells about the operation “Nemesis.”
This book was published in Argentina in 1949 and was very popular. Later, in the 90s, his memoirs were published in Russian in the magazine “Literary Armenia”.
Unfortunately, due to tuberculosis, Yerganian lived a short life. He died in 1934 at the age of just 34 years. How many more useful things he could have done!
He had a daughter, Pompey, who along with her sons now lives in Cordoba. But the legendary Armenian hero is still remembered and honored.
The grave of Yerganian in Cordoba has been a place of pilgrimage for all South American Armenians for 80 years after his death. It was even visited by the former president of Argentina Carlos Menem. In Armenia, Yerganian’s memory is also highly honored.
Much has been said about the need to establish a monument to him in Armenia and to award him the title of National Hero of Armenia, but such plans have not yet come to fruition. But this remarkable man, like no other, deserves it. And may the glorious name of Aram Yerganian serve as an eternal warning to all the enemies of the Armenian people about the inevitability of retribution.