The Punishment -
of those responsible for the Armenian Genocide
news of the mass murder of Armenians, which officially began on April 24,
1915, spread all over the world within a few weeks, when there could be
no longer any doubt about the extent of this crime. Principally on the
request of the Russian government, on May 24, 1915, all the press agencies
of the Allied Powers published the following joint declaration of the French,
British and Russian governments:
"Since about a month
the turkish and kurdish populations of Armenia are carrying out massacres
among the armenian people with the toleration and often with the support
of the Ottoman authorities. Such massacres have taken place in the middle
of April in Erzerum, Terdjan, Egine, Bitlis, Mush, Sassoun, Zeitun and
all over Cilicia. The inhabitants of about a hundred villages in the neighborhood
of Van have all been killed and the armenian quarter of Van has been besieged
by the Kurds. At the same time the Ottoman government dealt ruthlessly
with the defenseless armenian population of Constantinople. In view of
this new crime of Turkey against humanity and civilization, the Allied
governments publicly notify the Sublime Porte that they will hold personally
responsible all the members of the turkish government, as well as all officials
who have participated in these massacres"
When the reports of the massacres in
the turkish provinces reached the United States Ambassador in Constantinople,
Henry Morgenthau, he tried to intervene in favor of the Armenians at the
highest turkish quarters. However, the turkish officials' attitude made
it clear to him that there was no sense in negotiating with "statesmen"
of this type. Therefore, no more help could be given to the Armenians during
the war, as there were soon practically no Armenians left in Turkey in
whose favor one could intervene. There was nothing else for the Armenians
all over the world to do, than wait for the victory of the Allies.
On November 11, 1918, when the First
World War ended, the Armenians considered themselves among the victor Allies
(Great Britain, France, U.S.A.) and expected from them, the punishment
of the turkish officials who were responsible for the planning and perpetration
of the Armenian Genocide in 1915. Normally however, the reaction of the
Allies in the Armenian Question was not in accordance with the collective
note of May 1915 or the noble minded interventions of the U.S. Ambassador
in Constantinople. It did not take long for the Armenians to understand
that the Allies did not have any intentions to punish the turkish responsibles.
On the contrary, they were trying to protect the turkish murderers from
the armenian nation's vengeance, even though Turkey was among the defeated
The executors of the Armenian Genocide
fled Turkey, changing their names and what is most important without being
punished from the "civilized" world.
The verdict to punish the executors
of the Armenian Genocide was handed down by the Ninth World Congress of
the ARF which took place in the autumn of 1919. The subsequent planning
to implement that decision was most probably carried out during, or on
the occasion of, the Bucharest Conference. There is also a possibility
that it was one of the first tasks of the "Diasporan Responsible Body".
The series of assassinations, described as the "Special Operation" by the
Tenth World Congress, was carried out under the overall leadership of the
Responsible Body, assisted by the Central Committees of America -especially
financially- and Constantinople -mostly providing manpower- as well as
individual ARF members in the various cities of Europe.
The series began, quite justly, with
the assassination of Talaat Pasha, the Ottoman Empire's former Minister
of the Interior and the man most responsible for the Genocide. Six others,
Sayid Halim Pasha, Behaedin Shakir, Jemal Azmi, Jemal Pasha and Enver
Pasha, were also felled one after the other in the years 1921-1922.
In 1920, Soghomon Tehlirian
went from Constantinople to the United States, where he was briefed by
the Central Committee and received the blessings of Armen Karo.
He returned to Europe, arriving in Berlin on December 3 to search for the
murderer Talaat. Shahan Natali, Hrach Papazian, Libarid Nazariants,
Vahan Zakarian, Hazor and several others were already in Berlin to
organize and conduct the necessary undercover work. Tehlirian joined them.
The collective effort finally bore fruit; Talaat's residence was discovered
and placed under surveillance. On March 15, 1921, in front of number 17
Hardenberg Strasse, Talaat, shot in the head with one round from Tehlirian's
pistol, fell dead on the sidewalk. One can easily obtain the details of
Tehlirian's subsequent arrest and noisy trial - the testimony by the great
armenofile Dr. Johannes Lepsius on the Genocide, the successful
efforts of the German defense lawyers, the not guilty verdict of the German
Court and Tehlirian's release of the start of June 1921.
Behboud Khan Jivanshir, a
leader of the Musavat party, was Azerbaijan's Minister of the Interior
in 1918 during the fighting in Baku. He was considered the man most responsible
for the massacres carried out against the Armenians in September of that
year. In mid-1921 he was in Constantinople. The Responsible Body assigned
the task of assassinating Jivanshir to an ARF fedayee, Misak Torlakian,
who was assisted in the task of surveillance by Haroutiunian and
Funtukian. On the night of July 28, as Jivanshir left the "Petit Champ"
theater for the "Pera Palace" hotel, he was shot to death by Torlakian.
The avenger was arrested and badly beaten by the French security feircest
of Constantinople but was later handed over to the British occupation forces,
whose court acquitted him in November of 1921.
On the afternoon of December 5, 1921,
in Rome, Sayid Halim Pasha, Prime Minster of the Ottoman Empire
in the days of the Genocide, was assassinated as he drove to his home on
Via Eustacchio. The avenger was young Arshavir Shirakian, who had
been sent to Rome at the end of June by the Diasporan Responsible Body.
He was assisted by Krikor Merjian off in conducting the surveillance
of Sayid Halim, and Mikayel Varantian, who was still in Rome as
the official representative of the Armenian Republic, was also kept informed
of the operation. Quick and adroit, Shirakian avoided capture after the
assassination and was back in Constantinople within a month.
Shirakian did not stay in Constantinople
for long, however; the Responsible Body sent him to Berlin in pursuit of
other criminals. With him went Arshag Mousheghian (Yezid) as his
assistant, while the organizers of the operation, Shahan Natali, Hrach
Papazian and Shirakian, were already in Berlin, as was the veteran
ARF avenger Aram Yerganian. The surveillances began in mid-February,
1922; the plan was to assassinate the collective Ittihad leadership gathered
in Berlin. Hrach Papazian, disguised as a wealthy Turkish student, had
infiltrated turkish circles and almost daily passed on information to Natali
and Shirakian finally, on the night of April 17 on the main street of Uhland,
Arshavir Shirakian and Aram Yerganian assassinated the butcher of Trebizond,
Azmi and Ittihad Central Committee member Behaeddin Shakir.
Both avengers escaped, disappearing into the night.
A few months later, another assassination
took place, this time in Tiflis. On July 25, in broad daylight and in front
of Cheka headquarters, ARF avengers Stepan Dzaghikian, Bedros
Der Boghosian and Ardashes Kevorkian felled Jemal Pasha,
member of the Ittihad Triumvirate, who was at the time in collaboration
with the Bolsheviks. Witness to the act, the infamous Lavrenti Beria,
then chief of the Georgian Cheka, told those near him with certainty, "Eda
Dashnakski terror". The daring nature of the attack had attested to its
Not a month had passed, when in August
1922 the last member of the Ittihad Triumvirate, the former Minister of
War Enver Pasha, was killed in Soviet Turkestan. Enver was to escape
the ARF avengers, for he was killed in August 1922 in Soviet Turkestan
by an Armenian soldier in the Red Army.