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Operation Nemesis

Operation Nemesis
Location Berlin, Tiflis, Constantinople, Rome
Date 1920–1922
Target Ottoman and Azerbaijani officials responsible for the Armenian Genocide and the 1918 massacre of Armenians in Baku
Attack type
Perpetrators Armenian Revolutionary Federation
Motive Vigilante justice[1] and revenge[2][3]

Operation Nemesis (Armenian: «Նեմեսիս» գործողութիւն) was a covert operation by the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) carried out from 1920 to 1922, during which a number of former Ottoman and Azerbaijani political and military figures were assassinated for their role in the Armenian Genocide killings. Shahan Natalie and Armen Garo are considered its masterminds.[4] It was named after the Greek goddess of divine retribution, Nemesis.[5]


  • Background 1
  • Congress in Yerevan 2
    • Operation 2.1
  • Aftermath 3
  • List of operations 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • Further reading 7
  • External links 8


The Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) was active within the Ottoman Empire in the early 1890s with the aim of unifying the various small groups in the empire who advocated for reform and a certain degree of autonomy within the empire. ARF members formed fedayi guerrilla groups that helped organize self-defense of Armenian civilians.

In July-August 1914, the 8th congress of the ARF was a watershed event. Members of the Committee of Union and Progress requested from the party assistance in the conquest of Transcaucasia by inciting a rebellion of Russian Armenians against the Russian army in the event of a Caucasus Campaign opening up.[6][7] The Armenians agreed to remain loyal to their government, but declared their inability to agree to the other proposal.[8]

Prominent ARF members were among the Armenian intellectuals targeted on April 24, 1915 in Constantinople.[9] The arrested people were moved to two holding centers near Ankara under Interior Minister Mehmed Talat'order on April 24, 1915, and mostly deported and killed.

In 1919, after the Armistice of Mudros, the Turkish Courts-Martial of 1919–1920 were convened in Constantinople, during which some of the principal perpetrators of the Armenian Genocide were convicted and sentenced to death.[10] The UK also detained some of the Malta exiles for their involvement.

Congress in Yerevan

On May 28, 1918, the Armenian National Council, a group of professionals based in Tiflis declared the independence of the First Republic of Armenia.[11] Hovhannes Kachaznuni and Alexander Khatisyan, both members of the ARF, moved to Yerevan, Armenia to seize power and issued the official announcement of Armenian independence on May 30, 1918. Yerevan became the capital city in Armenia. At this city, from September 27 to the end of October 1919, the ARF's 9th General Congress convened.

The issue of justice against those responsible for the Armenian Genocide was on the agenda of the congress. Over many of the Russian Armenian delegates' vociferous objections, it was decided to mete out justice through armed force. ARF Bureau members, specifically Armenian people.


The leader of the group responsible for the task was Shahan Natalie, working with Grigor Merjanov. For Natalie, the primary target was Talaat Pasha, whom Shahan called "Number One." The mission to kill Talaat was entrusted to Soghomon Tehlirian. Natalie's aim was to turn Tehlirian's trial into the political trial of those responsible for the Armenian Genocide. In his memoirs, Natalie revealed his orders to Tehlirian: "you blow up the skull of the Number One nation-murderer and you don't try to flee. You stand there, your foot on the corpse and surrender to the police, who will come and handcuff you."[12]


On July 24, 1923, the Treaty of Lausanne, in Lausanne, Switzerland, settled the Anatolian and East Thracian issue of the partitioning of the Ottoman Empire by annulment of the Treaty of Sèvres that was signed by the Constantinople-based Ottoman government.[13] Part of negotiations that established the Treaty of Lausanne was the Malta exiles. The UK released criminals as part of a prisoner swap, in exchange for the release of British troops held captive by the new Turkish government of Kemal Ataturk.[14] Since there were no international laws in place under which they could be tried, the men who orchestrated the genocide traveled relatively freely throughout Germany, Italy, and Central Asia.[15] After the Sovietization of Armenia, many of the Armenian Republic's expatriate revolutionary activists did not hesitate to collaborate with Azeri and Turk Armenophobe activists to regain governmental control. This policy was contrary to Shahan Natalie's conviction that "Over and above the Turk, the Armenian has no enemy, and Armenian revenge is just and godly." There was deep dissent on both sides, but not yet to the point of separation.

To forestall the probable victory of the "Freedom Fighters" at the upcoming 11th General Congress (27 March to 2 May 1929), on the eve of the meeting, the Bureau began a "cleansing campaign." The first to be "removed"(3) from the party was Bureau member, Shahan Natalie. "Knowingly" (by his definition) having joined the ARF and unjustly separated from it, Shahan Natalie wrote about this: "With Shahan began again that which had begun with Antranig; Bureau member, Shahan, was 'ousted'" After Shahan were successively ousted Haig Kntouni, Armenian Republic army officer Bagrevandian with his group, Glejian and Tartizian with their partisans, General Smbad, Ferrahian with his group, future "Mardgots" (Bastion)-ists Mgrdich Yeretziants, Levon Mozian, Vazgen Shoushanian, Mesrob Kouyoumjian, Levon Kevonian and many others. As a protest to this "cleansing" by the Bureau, some members of the ARF French Central Committee also resigned.

List of operations

Assassinations performed under Operation Nemesis include:[16]
Date Location Target Assassin(s)
19 June 1920 Georgia
Fatali Khan Khoyski
Prime Minister of Azerbaijan
Aram Yerganian
Misak Kirakosyan
15 March 1921 Berlin, Germany
Talaat Pasha
Ottoman Minister of Interior
Soghomon Tehlirian
18 July 1921 Istanbul

Behbud Khan Javanshir
Minister of Interior of Azerbaijan
Misak Torlakian
5 December 1921 Rome, Italy
Said Halim Pasha
Ottoman Grand Vizier
Arshavir Shiragian
17 April 1922 Berlin, Germany
Behaeddin Shakir
Founding member of the Committee of Union and Progress
Aram Yerganian
17 April 1922 Berlin, Germany
Cemal Azmi
Wāli of Trebizond Vilayet
Arshavir Shiragian
25 July 1922 Soviet Georgia
Djemal Pasha
Governor of Syria
Stepan Dzaghigian
Bedros D. Boghosian

See also


  1. ^ Frey, Rebecca Joyce (2009). Genocide and International Justice. New York: Infobase Publishing. p. 82.  
  2. ^ Totten, Samuel; Jacobs, Paul R. Bartrop (2008). Dictionary of genocide. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press. p. 320.  
  3. ^ Freedman, Jeri (2009). The Armenian genocide (1st ed.). New York: Rosen Pub. Group. p. 42.  
  4. ^ Eminian, Sarkis J. (2004). West of Malatia: The Boys of '26. Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse. p. 3.  
  5. ^ Newton, Michael (2014). Famous Assassinations in World History: An Encyclopedia [2 volumes]. ABC-CLIO. pp. 269–70.  
  6. ^ Taner Akcam, A Shameful Act, p. 136
  7. ^ Richard G. Hovannisian, The Armenian People from Ancient to Modern Times, 244
  8. ^ The Encyclopedia Americana, 1920, v.28, p. 412
  9. ^ Finkel, Caroline, Osman's Dream, (Basic Books, 2005), 57; "Istanbul was only adopted as the city's official name in 1930..".
  10. ^ Charny, Israel W.; Tutu, editor in chief; forewords by Archbishop Desmond; Wiesenthal, Simon (2000). Encyclopedia of genocide (Repr. ed.). Oxford: ABC-Clio.  
  11. ^ Hovannisian. "Armenia's Road to Independence", p. 298.
  12. ^ "Nayiri" weekly, v. 12, nos. 1-6
  13. ^ ;
    ARTICLE 91
    All grants of patents and registrations of trade-marks, as well as all registrations of transfers or assignments of patents or trade marks which have been duly made since the 30th October, 1918, by the Imperial Ottoman Government at Constantinople or elsewhere..
  14. ^ Power, Samantha. "A Problem from Hell", p. 16. Basic Books, 2002.
  15. ^ Power, Samantha. "A Problem from Hell", p. 17. Basic Books, 2002.
  16. ^

Further reading

  • Natalie, Shahan (2002) [1928]. The Turks and Us.  
  • Yerganian, Aram (1949). Այսպէս Սպաննեցինք (In this way, we killed) (in Armenian). Los Angeles. 
  • Shiragian, Arshavir (1976). The Legacy. Sonia Shiragian.  
  • Avakian, Lindy V. (1989). The Cross and the Crescent. USC Press.  
  • Derogy, Jacques (1990). Resistance & Revenge. Transaction Publishers.  
  • Alexander, Edward (2000). A Crime of Vengeance.  
  • Yeghiayan, Vartkes (2006). The Case of Soghomon Tehlirian. Center for Armenian Remembrance.  
  • Yeghiayan, Vartkes (2006). The Case of Misak Torlakian. Center for Armenian Remembrance.  

External links

  • Detailed story of Special Operation
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