The Case of Soghomon Tehlirian

Armenian Political Trials
Translated by Vartkes Yeghiayan

Grade Level: Eleventh Grade to Adult
Soghomon Tehlirian, a survivor of the Armenian Genocide, assassinated Talaat Pasha in Berlin in 1921. This work presents the case in detail.

 Talaat, Minister of the Interior and mastermind of the Genocide, had fled Turkey to seek refuge in Germany where he continued to labor for Pan-Turkism.  He had been tried in abstentia by the Turkish authorities and sentenced to death for the atrocities he planned and carried out, but no official effort had been made to apprehend him and bring him to justice.

After Talaat’s assassination in Berlin, Soghomon Tehlirian, who admitted committing the murder, was given a jury trial.  During the two-day trial, expert witnesses and eye-witnesses testified not only about the murder itself, but about the details of the Armenian Genocide and Tehlirian’s physical and mental condition as the only survivor in his family.  The jury acquitted Tehlirian of the crime.  He eventually moved to the United States and lived out his years in San Francisco.