Bedrosyan: Three Fugitives and a Great Crime

Nov. 2, 1918 was a turning point in Turkish, German, and Armenian history.

Three days after the Marine Minister of Ottoman-Turkey signed the Mudros Ceasefire Treaty aboard the British warship Agamemnon, accepting defeat in the First World War, a German submarine picked up three people from three different port locations in Istanbul and spirited them away to Sivastopol in Crimea, and then to Germany. Who were these three persons running away from Istanbul in the middle of the night?

They were the leaders of the Ottoman government—Talat, Enver, and Cemal—the triumvirate that led Ottoman-Turkey into World War I, ultimately causing the deaths of millions of Ottoman citizens, the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, and the deliberate annihilation of the Armenian people from the lands they had inhabited for 4,000 years. Their imperialistic dreams of creating an all Turkic empire called Turan that stretched from Europe to the Caucasus, the Middle East, and into Central Asia—manipulated and encouraged by Germany at the expense of Great Britain and Russia—had failed miserably. Hundreds of thousands of Ottoman Army conscripts had died, and millions of Muslim civilians had become displaced for the sake of this dream. The 1.5 million Armenians regarded as an obstacle to this dream were killed outright or driven to the Syrian desert for a slow death.

Both Turkish and world public opinion had branded Talat, Enver, and Cemal as the “Most wanted men and criminals against humanity.” German intelligence reports were circulated claiming that these three would be immediately arrested and hanged from street light poles as soon as the Allied occupation forces landed in Istanbul. German leaders who had encouraged the Ottomans to enter the war for their own imperialistic dreams, and who had turned a blind eye to the systematic slaughter of the Armenians during the war, were now afraid that these three would start “singing” upon arrest, would rightly or wrongly blame the Germans for their excesses, and would shift responsibility for the crimes against humanity onto the Germans themselves. Therefore, an escape plan was hatched.

On the night of Nov. 2, 1918, the German boat first picked up Talat, Istanbul Governor Bedri Bey, and five others from the Port of Moda on the Asian shores of Istanbul. The password used to let the Turks come aboard the boat was “Enver.” The boat then sailed to Arnavutkoy, on the European side of Istanbul, to pick up Enver and a few other Ittihat Terakki Party (or Committee of Union and Progress, CUP) leaders. Following north on the Bosphorus, the boat had a final stop at Istinye for Cemal, before sailing into the Black Sea toward Crimea.

Beginning in May 1919, Talat, Enver, and Cemal were tried in absentia by a Turkish military tribunal in Istanbul for “treason, war crimes, and crimes against civilians.” On July 5, 1919, the court sentenced all three to be executed. Of course, they were nowhere to be found in Turkey. And it was left to the Armenians to carry out the death sentences through “Operation Nemesis,” named after the Goddess of Revenge in Greek mythology.

Talat was executed in Berlin in 1921, Cemal in Tbilisi in 1922, and Enver in Bukhara in 1922. Other Ittihat Terakki mass murderers also met justice by Armenian operations, most notably Bahattin Shakir, the leader of the Special Organization (Teskilat-I Mahsusa), who organized the implementation of the deportations and mass murders, employing convicted murderers for this purpose, and Cemal Azmi, the governor of Trabzon, who organized the mass drowning of the Armenians of the Black Sea region by shipping them to sea and overturning their boats.

For almost a hundred years, the official history books of the Turkish state have portrayed Britain, Russia, and France as imperialistic powers, with Ottoman-Turkey heroically fighting against them. They have not once mentioned that Ottoman-Turkey was itself an imperialistic entity, whose blindly ambitious leaders sent millions of citizens to their deaths without blinking an eye.

The official history books of the Turkish state still portray these three treacherous cowards, who ran away as soon as the war was lost, as national heroes, with their names given to dozens of neighborhoods, schools, streets, and mosques. The official history books still do not mention how much property and assets these three and their followers stole from the Armenians. In fact, the Turkish state passed legislation awarding the houses and assets of murdered Armenians to the families and heirs of these three persons and other executed Ittihat Terakki leaders as “blood money”; they continue to receive payments to this day. The denialist policy of the Turkish state was not challenged by the successive brainwashed generations within Turkey. But today, civil society and enlightened citizens of Turkey have started to see the truth and, more importantly, have started to pressure their government to acknowledge the truth, if not out of empathy for the Armenian victims, then for the sake of stopping the embarrassment to themselves as Turkish citizens caused by these blatant lies and denial.


Raffi Bedrosyan

Raffi Bedrosyan is a civil engineer, writer and a concert pianist, living in Toronto. Proceeds from his concerts and CDs have been donated to the construction of school, highways, and water and gas distribution projects in Armenia and Karabakh—projects in which he has also participated as a voluntary engineer. Bedrosyan was involved in organizing the Surp Giragos Diyarbakir/Dikranagerd Church reconstruction project. His many articles in English, Armenian and Turkish media deal with Turkish-Armenian issues, Islamized hidden Armenians and the history of thousands of Armenian churches left behind in Turkey after 1915. He gave the first Armenian piano concert in the Surp Giragos Church since 1915, most recently at the 2015 Genocide Centenary Commemoration. He is the founder of Project Rebirth, which helps Islamized Armenians return to their original Armenian roots, language and culture. He has appeared as a keynote speaker at numerous international conferences related to human rights, genocide studies and Armenian issues.

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  1. I loved this article because it reveals the myth, as drilled into the heads of brainwashed and unsuspecting Turks, about the so-called “brave” and “noble” Turkish blood. Every Armenian should study and learn about this operation if he has not already. It is very inspiring, selfless and gratifying.

    Take a good look at these three disgusting cowards. There is an old saying that when the going gets tough the tough gets going but in the case of these Turkish cowards when the going got tough the cowards skipped town. Some nobility and bravery huh? Noble men don’t commit genocide on defenseless women and children and brave men stand their ground and fight to the death. Instead, these Turkish spineless cowards, not to mention leaders of an empire, with all their might ran for their lives and hid, like fugitives and beggars, in foreign lands in European capitals scared to death of their young and patriotic Armenian genocide avengers.

    In a way these Turkish little cockroaches reminded me of Iraq’s dictator Saddam Hussein who murdered hundreds of thousands of people in cold blood. He would proudly walk around in his military uniform, a pistol strapped to his side, cigar on his lips, firing bullets in the air with his rifle and yielding and waving a sword in the air. What a powerful image he portrayed to his fellow loyal Arabs. What happened to him when they came knocking on his door and challenging his macho bravado? He gave up like a little mouse hiding in a cave!

    It was these young, dedicated and selfless Armenian patriots who were the TRUE nobles and the braves NOT their gutless Turkish mass-murdering targets. A handful of determined Armenians taught these vagabond Turkish monsters and the leaders of a genocidal empire that they can run but they can never hide from Armenian justice. God bless their brave souls for sending these Turkish cowards to hell where they belonged.

  2. I dont understand why Germany is not being asked to account for getting the turks
    to do their dirty work for them? It seems to me that Germany hired the turks to
    do what was done.

  3. Peter and David, you can share this article to Facebook by copying the link in the address bar, opening your facebook page, and posting it as your status . The Article will be shared!

  4. “They have not once mentioned that Ottoman-Turkey was itself an imperialistic entity, whose blindly ambitious leaders sent millions of citizens to their deaths without blinking an eye.”

    Not to mention that the Young Turks declared war on Russia first by bombarding a Russian coast using the Ottoman navy (from a German built boat with a German captain).

  5. Raffi, your detailed accounts of the mysterious pick up in the night of November 2, 1918 of the three prominent criminals among others by the German submarine destined to Sevatapol, is out of a suspense novel.
    I have no doubt about its accuracy, rather I am curious to know its source to further my knowledge in the matter. Thanks.

    • Ditto. The story is not surprising given the alliance with Germany, yet I’d love to hear more about the sources.

  6. In my ancient readings, I’ve found that the submarine let all those murderers in Constanta, a Romanian port, and from there they reach Germany. Please, add the source of your info. Good article.

  7. Well written, this article fails to address the real issue regarding the extinction of Eastern Christians, their wealth and their cultural heritage from the entire peninsula of land now called country of Turkey. It fails to recognize, in fact, ignores whatever happened to Armenians is also exactly the same as what happened to the Orthodox Greeks as well as the Assyrians, whose home land is also the same. In other words this article reflects cliche worlds apart disposition of above mentioned Eastern Christian communities towards one another.

  8. Attempts of this sort which can only be called one sided will not bring about a comprehensive and conclusive results. Very sad!

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