3. Payback on a Berlin Street
The impunity enjoyed by Talaat Pasha ended in 1921. An Armenian revolutionary named Soghomon Tehlirian had discovered Talaat’s Berlin address, and rented an apartment nearby to study his every move. On March 15th, 1921, Tehlirian shadowed Talaat when he left his house, and waited for the right moment to dish out payback. Upon confirming his target’s identity, Tehlirian pulled out a Luger pistol, shot Talaat dead in broad daylight, then waited over the corpse for the police to arrive and arrest him.
Tehlirian’s subsequent trial for murder was a sensation, which he used as a platform to draw attention to the Armenian Genocide. His lawyers focused on the impact the genocide had on Tehlirian’s mental state. He testified that he had acted after his mother – killed during the atrocity – had appeared to him in a dream, berating him for not having avenged her. It took a Berlin jury one hour to acquit him, returning a verdict of not guilty on grounds of temporary insanity.