Bogosian Spotlights the Extraordinary Men of ‘Operation Nemesis’

WATERTOWN, Mass.—Author and actor Eric Bogosian enjoyed a warm Watertown homecoming on Mon., Sept. 14, discussing his acclaimed book, Operation Nemesis: The Assassination Plot That Avenged the Armenian Genocide, before a capacity crowd at the St. James Armenian Church Men’s Club.  Bogosian, who was raised in Woburn and attended St. James as a boy, said how meaningful it was to speak to such a crowd at a church where he served as an altar boy and which his grandfather was a founder of decades ago.

Author and actor Eric Bogosian enjoyed a warm Watertown homecoming on Mon., Sept. 14, discussing his acclaimed book Operation Nemesis
Author and actor Eric Bogosian enjoyed a warm Watertown homecoming on Mon., Sept. 14, discussing his acclaimed book ‘Operation Nemesis.’

Realizing that he is at a place in his career where his success has afforded him a high level of visibility, Bogosian explained that he sees the book as a kind of “Trojan horse” that will get knowledge of the Armenian Genocide to a non-Armenian readership that might otherwise never learn about it.  Observing that even within the Armenian community the level of historical knowledge is not necessarily that high, he noted that among many well-educated Americans it is simply non-existent, and that he has gotten many comments from friends who had read his book and learned about the Armenian Genocide for the first time.

Bogosian, whose grandfather Megerditch and great-grandmother narrowly escaped the genocide, read a portion of the book’s opening chapter in which he recalled hearing his grandfather’s stories and his own sense of disconnect, as a thoroughly Americanized youth, from the intensity of his grandfather’s experiences in a seemingly far-off place and time.

It was only much later, Bogosian explained, after he was an established actor (albeit one who refused to change his name and appearance to become less “ethnic”), that he began to seriously investigate the history of the Armenian Genocide. Prompted in part by his role in Atom Egoyan’s “Ararat” and by reading Peter Balakian’s memoir of his developing Armenian-American consciousness, Black Dog of Fate, and spurred by the attention paid to the Armenian Genocide and Soghomon Tehlirian in Samantha Power’s A Problem from Hell, Bogosian developed an interest in the dramatic story of Tehlirian’s assassination of Talaat Pasha in Berlin in 1921.

Bogosian explained how he read these accounts and the trial transcript and began to conceive of a screenplay.  However, then he read Jacques Derogy’s study Resistance and Revenge: The Armenian Assassination of the Turkish Leaders Responsible for the 1915 Massacres and Deportations (first published in French in 1986 and translated into English in 1990).  Derogy, who as Bogosian explained had access to material in the archives of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, gave an account that differed from and greatly expanded on that of, for example, Power.

Bogosian then undertook several years’ worth of intensive reading on Armenian and Ottoman history and related topics. Since he does not know Armenian, he worked with scholar Aram Arkun who translated for him important works such as Tehlirian’s autobiography.  He came to the conclusion that the story of Nemesis needed to be told in a factual way that would reach as wide a readership as possible.  He writes that “Tehlirian and his cohorts were not simply avengers,” and that “through their actions [they] tried to offset in some way the anonymous deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians who died in the deserts and in their homes and in mountain wastelands.”  He declares that “to the million and a half Armenians who perished at the hands of Ottoman Turks during the First World War, and to their countless descendants, the actions of Operation Nemesis shouted, ‘You existed.  You are memorable. We remember you.’”

In both his book and his talk at St. James, Bogosian pointed out that although the actions taken by Operation Nemesis were entirely illegal, and that the rule of law is important and should be respected, “the men and women of Operation Nemesis did what governments could not.  They were appealing to a higher, final justice.”

It is noteworthy that Bogosian gave a talk that hailed the heroism and ingenuity of the “ordinary men” who planned and carried out Operation Nemesis—all of whom were, of course, members of the ARF—in the hall of a Diocesan church. Bogosian’s work and its reception goes a long way toward breaking down barriers in the Armenian community by emphasizing that the importance of Tehlirian and the rest of the masterminds of Nemesis should be appreciated by all Armenians of any political stripe, even while recognizing that they were products of the specific political ideology of the ARF. More, even, than being of interest only to Armenians, these men changed world history, Bogosian stated.

Bogosian seems to be on a mission to inform everyone he can reach that the unpunished crime of the Armenian Genocide forced ordinary men to become extraordinary ones and to pursue the justice that the Armenian people were denied.  Armenian celebrities who seldom, if ever, get involved in the community or get their hands dirty working on causes we hold dear are generally criticized or viewed with scorn.  It might have taken him a while, but Eric Bogosian has performed a valuable service by bringing attention to these ordinary men and their extraordinary deeds.

Guest Contributor

Guest Contributor

Guest contributions to the Armenian Weekly are informative articles or press releases written and submitted by members of the community.


  1. So Mr. Bogosian says that the actions of Operation Nemesis were “illegal”?
    How about the actions of hundreds of thousands of Turks and Kurds who took part individually and collectively to kill Armenians?

  2. It was sad to read about the genocide . It was revolting to find out in chapter 11 ,the way the western powers abandoned us for the sake OIL.

  3. I think the actions of Operation Nemesis did far more than just shouted, “You existed. You are memorable. We remember you.” It also sent a strong message to the genocidal Turkish leadership that their crimes will not go unpunished and that they may run but they can never hide from Armenian justice. The irony here is the fact that the masterminds of the Armenian Genocide murdered in cold-blood and nearly wiped out an entire nation they exiled into deserts on foreign lands to claim their lands for a greater Turkey and that they not only did not live to bring their fascist dreams into fruition but they themselves were killed on foreign soils and at point blank range by vengeful and dedicated Armenian heroes and patriots.

    Also, calling the actions taken by Operation Nemesis against Turkish monsters who planned the systematic extermination of the indigenous Armenians illegal and that the rule of law is important and should be respected is quite out of context because not only no Turkish law was respecting the rights of the Armenians who were being butchered but that very law of the land which was supposed to protect its Armenian citizens had itself planned and condoned the killings of the Armenians. But since the author is most likely referring to the laws of the countries, such as Germany an ally and mobilizer of Turkey, that gave refuge to such monsters on the run should have been respected, well they already forfeited the respect for their laws by giving refuge and admitting on their soil these Turkish criminals in the first place and, more to the point, when they knew full well the crimes committed by them against the Armenians.

    Bravo to each and every member of Operation Nemesis who, in their own ways, avenged the murder of the Armenian nation from the Turkish masterminds of the Armenian Genocide and that their courageous and heroic acts, in effect, also put an end for good to their pan-Turkic agenda and dreams of the creation of the empire of Turan at the expense of the Armenian nation.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.