Archive for May 5th, 2015

Operation Nemesis bogosian

Eric Bogosian. Operation Nemesis: The Assassination Plot that Avenged the Armenian Genocide.  New York, NY:
Little, Brown and Company, April 21st, 2015. 384 pp.

This is a fascinating book that was timely published the same year as the Centennial anniversary of the Armenian genocide.  I know so little about the Genocide myself and I think most Americans are in the same boat.  This book tells the story of a small group of Armenians after the Genocide who secretly planned and carried out assassination of key Turkish leaders who orchestrated the genocide.  I was surprised that such an interesting story has received so little attention!  I felt it was like a real life early twentieth century version of Jason Bourne.  The story is incredible enough that after finishing the book I hunger to read more on Operation Nemesis.  I think if they made a film of this story it would be a blockbuster.

This book was helpful in providing the background of the Armenian genocide itself.  I think it was wise that the author did that given how most readers know little much of Turkish murder of Armenians.  It was emotional for me to see the account of how innocent women and children were deceptively led on a caravan to be murdered.  It was very hard to go through this portion of the book.  I don’t even know how the Armenians are still around with the way the Turks systematically went about killing Armenians.  It is nothing short of a miracle from God.

Through this book I learned about a group who called itself the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) which was a group of politically radical Armenians that came about in the late 1800s.  After World War one was over they were the ones who set in motion Operation Nemesis.  Much of the book focused on the first mission of Operation Nemesis.  Their target was Mehmed Talaat Pasha who was one of three de facto ruler of the Ottoman Empire who had escaped from the Allies and was in not so secret hiding in Germany.  Although he was found guilty and sentenced to death in absentia, German officials failed to work with the Allies to have him handed over even though British Intelligence knew exactly where Pasha was.  Strangely enough, they did not share this information to the Armenians for a variety of reasons.  The book also gives a surprising amount of biographical information of the Assassin named Soghomon Tehlirian.  He was an Armenian who lost his family from the genocide while he was away serving in the Russian Army against the Ottomans.  Through this book I learned that the ARF also wanted to exploit the assassination strategically to bring international attention to the Armenian genocide.  Tehlirian was to deliberately stay in the premise after his killing in order to be arrested and hopefully share his testimony of his life.  I learned from this book that Tehlirian fabricated a lot of lies in his account and the court including the Judge went easy on him and in the end it became more of a trial of Pasha than it was for his murderer.  There was a lot of sympathies from the international press as well for Tehlirian in light of the context of the genocide that he was a victim of.

This book in the end was not just an account of history a hundred years ago.  One of the more chilling part of the books is the ending in which the author gives us an account as to how far the Turkish government is willing to go to cover up the Genocide.  It ranges from keeping government archives closed to researchers, outlandish lies and even changing the whole Turkish alphabet and written language as to make reading and translation of pre-World War One document difficult for most Turkish researchers.  Over all a good book that I highly recommend.

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