Soghomon's iblis (video stills) / 2014
running time: 8 minutes
fingerprinting of an armenian woman in may / 2014
Soghomon's iblis in 7 torments / 2014
Soghomon's iblis / 2014
The work is inspired by Soghomon Tehlirian's testimony from his trial, set in Berlin, in 1921.
Tehlirian admitted to having killed Talaat Pasha, one of the three pashas that ruled over the Ottoman Empire during the First World War. The assassination took place on March 15th, 1921, in the presence of many witnesses.
Talaat Pasha was one of the people directly responsible for the Armenian Genocide (the Armenian Holocaust), during which 1.5 million Armenians were systematically exterminated from their historic homeland, in the territory that is part of present-day Turkey.
Soghomon Tehlirian lost all of his family during the exterminations and was haunted by his loss until the end of his life.
He was found not guilty by the German court and was freed.
text: "The case of Soghomon Tehlirian", by A.R.F. Varantian Gomideh
translated from German to English by Vartkes Yeghiyan, Los Angeles, US, 1985
warm thanks to armeniapedia.org/
The Case of Soghomon Tehlirian
The trial of Soghomon Tehlirian, in which he was found innocent of murder, took place over two days in Germany.
Trial of Soghomon Tehlirian-First Morning
Participants at court: Presiding Justice of the District Court: Dr. Lehmberg Associate Justice of the District Court: Dr. Bathe Associate Justice of the District Court: Dr. Lachs Recording Secretary: Warmburg District Attorney: Gollnick
Jury: Wilhelm Grau — mason, Nawen, near Berlin Rudolf Grosser — merchant, Bernow (Mark) Kurt Bartel — jeweler, Berlin Adolf Kühne — landlord, Berlin — Bankov Otto Ewald — landlord, Charlottenburg Otto Wagner — roofer, Charlottenburg Otto Binde — locksmith, Schönerlinde Otto Reinecke — executive, Degel Eugene de Price — painter, Wilmersdorf, Berlin Albert Belling — pharmacist, Charlottenburg Hermann Golde — locksmith, Charlottenburg Robert Heise — brick manufacturer, Charlottenburg
Alternate Jurors: Julius Furch — landlord, Charlottenburg August Bliesener — butcher, Degel
Defense Attorneys: Dr. Adolf von Gordon — privy legal counselor, Berlin Dr. Johannes Werthauer — privy legal counselor, Berlin Dr. Kurt Niemeyer — privy legal counselor, Professor of Law, Köln University
The Presiding Justice of the District Court, Justice Lehmberg, opened the proceedings at exactly 9:15 A .M. The presence of the three defense attorneys and the defendant was noted, and the two interpreters, Vahan Zakarian and Kevork Kaloustian, took the oath.
Subsequently, the jurors were chosen by balloting and each one took an oath stating that he would give his verdict as his conscience dictated.
Then, the presence of the witnesses and the expert witnesses was verified.
THE PRESIDING JUSTICE (addressing the witness and expert witnesses) — In this trial, you will be heard as witnesses or as expert witnesses. The subject matter of this trial is already familiar to you. I would like, however, to bring to your attention the importance and the sanctity of taking the oath. You should be aware that our laws provide for severe punishment for those who either inadvertently or intentionally give false testimony after taking the oath. Furthermore, any information you give pertaining to the defendant or your association with him has to correspond to the truth. Therefore, I will now ask you to leave this courtroom and wait to be called in. We will probably decide that some of the witnesses need not be present today; consequently I would request that you please stay close to the door.
All the witnesses exit from the courtroom. The following expert witnesses take their seats:
Dr. Thiel, regional assistant physician, Berlin - Friedenau. Dr. Schmilinsky, privy sanitation counselor, Charlottenburg. Dr. Schloss, physician, sanitary warden 7. Dr. Störmer, court physician and privy medical counselor, Berlin. Dr. Hugo Liepmann, psychiatrist distinguished professor at Berlin. University, and privy medical counselor, Berlin. Dr. Richard Cassirer, neurologist and professor at Berlin University Prof. Dr. Edmund Forster, psychiatrist and chief physician of the University Neurological Clinic of Mercy Hospital, Berlin. Dr. Bruno Haake, neurologist, Berlin. Mr. Barella, royal gunsmith and expert on firearms, Berlin. Dr. Phil P. Pfefer, French interpreter, Berlin — Friedenau.
PRESIDING JUSTICE (to the members of the court and to the defense attorneys) — After reading the indictment, I intend to examine the defendant in as much detail as possible and hear Mrs. Taint, merchant Jessen, servant Dembicki, police officer Gnass, Chief of Police Schultze, Advisor to the Court Schultze, Dr. Schloss, Mr. Barella, and also the eyewitnesses to the incident. Secondly, I shall question only those witnesses who knew the defendant and associated with him while he was in Berlin and Paris; namely, Mrs. Stellbaum, Mrs. Dittmann, Miss Lola Beilenson, the teacher, Mr. Apelian, Mr. Eftian, Mr. Terzibashian, Mrs. Terzibashian, and the recently subpoenaed Samuel Vosganian.
VON GORDON — We agree.
PRESIDING Justice — Hence, I would like to ask the defense attorneys to refrain, if possible, from alleging any further evidence, other than what has already been mentioned.
VON GORDON — It is clear that we can only make a decision on this matter later on in the trial. This case involves a very complicated issue. On the one hand, we are obligated to protect the rights of the defendant and, on the other hand, we also feel obligated to protect the interests of the German government.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Then I shall be satisfied with the witnesses on lists one and two for today, and, tomorrow, I shall examine those who were subpoenaed in writing on May 30th or before. Therefore, nineteen witnesses remain for today. Perhaps it would also be advisable to designate a lunch break. How do the jurors feel about this? (Jurors agree) We will take a short break at 1:30 and tomorrow morning we shall examine the rest of the witnesses. Successively we shall also hear the expert witnesses, Professor Dr. Cassirer, Dr. Störmer, privy counselor Dr. Liepmann, and Professor Forster.
VON GORDON — We request the names of Dr. Lepsius and His Excellency General Liman von Sanders be added to the list of expert witnesses. We also request that these two expert witnesses be heard as experts on the whole Armenian Question. Evidence will be introduced at this trial, gentlemen of the jury, that is foreign to you and to us; therefore we need a key in order to understand, especially, the character of the Armenians. For this purpose, the most qualified individual is Dr. Lepsius who has lived for an extended period of time there and has personal knowledge of the events that took place. Also His Excellency, General Liman von Sanders who, as we all know, has lived in Turkey for many years, not only during the war but before as well. We had planned to call, as an expert witness, the former German Consul to Aleppo. Syria, Mr. Roessler, who presently is in Eger. He sent me a telegram from there, stating that he could come as an expert witness if the Foreign Office gave permission. The Foreign Office had initially given permission; however, as of last night, they would not allow the Consul to come and be heard as a witness. As to the questions that we could have asked the Consul, we are in the process of corresponding with him and we hope to have this matter resolved today.
DISTRICT ATTORNEY — I would like to point out that the incident in question did not take place in Armenia, but rather in Berlin. In my opinion, it is not necessary to hear the testimony of such expert witnesses on Armenia. However, since the defense attorneys have already invited expert witnesses, they have to be heard according to the provisions of our penal code. We cannot object to that. However, I would like to request that the evidence not be expanded to matters which, in my opinion, have no relation to the issues that are before us.
VON GORDON — We shall try, as much as possible, to limit our evidence to the issues. But I beg of you that nothing be left out. Believe me, gentlemen, it is in the interests of the German government that nothing be left out.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — This Court has decided that Professor Dr. Lepsius and His Excellency General Liman von Sanders will be heard as expert witnesses. They both have the right to be present throughout this trial.
(Professor Dr. Lepsius and General Liman von Sanders enter the room)
I would like to inform the two gentlemen that, at the request of the defense counsels, they will be heard as expert witnesses. I would like to repeat that witnesses Sister Tora von Wedel, Sister Eva Elvers, Sister Didzum, Mrs. Schbiker, writer Aram Andonian, Lieutenant Ernest Barakine, Captain Franz Karl Endress, and Vice-Prelate Balakian will be heard tomorrow. Therefore they may leave today, but they must be here at 9:00 MM. tomorrow. The other witnesses have to be here today. Now we will open the proceedings by putting the defendant on the stand and begin the questioning about his background.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Is it true that you were born on April 2, 1897 in Pakarij?
DEFENDANT — Yes.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — What line of business were your parents in?
DEFENDANT — They were merchants.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Where did they live?
DEFENDANT — In Pakarij.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Always?
DEFENDANT — When I was only two or three years old, they moved to Erzinga.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — How many brothers and sisters did you have?
DEFENDANT — Two brothers and three sisters.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Until 1915, were they all living with your parents?
DEFENDANT — All except one of my sisters who was married.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Where did you go to school?
DEFENDANT — In Erzinga.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — For how long?
DEFENDANT — About eight or nine years.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did you successfully graduate?
DEFENDANT — Yes, successfully.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Were your parents in a good financial position?
DEFENDANT — Yes, very good.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did they suffer any losses as a result of the World War?
DEFENDANT — Until the massacres, our family did not suffer any losses. But business had slowed down a little.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Was one of your brothers a soldier?
DEFENDANT — Yes, one of my brothers was a soldier.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Where did he fight, on which front?
DEFENDANT — He did not go to the front; he was in Kharpert, south of Erzinga.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Is Kharpert in Armenia?
DEFENDANT — Yes, in Asian Turkey.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — In 1915, was your brother at home?
DEFENDANT — Yes, in 1915, he was home on leave when the massacres started.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did the massacre at Erzinga come as a complete surprise to you or were there already signs of it?
DEFENDANT — We thought that there would be massacres, since news was circulating that people had been killed.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — What were peoples thoughts about the massacres? What was said? What was the cause of them?
DEFENDANT — Massacres had taken place all along. From the time I was born and from the time my parents settled in Erzinga. they always used to tell us that massacres had taken place.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Previously as well? When did these massacres take place?
DEFENDANT — In 1894 there were massacres in Erzinga.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Were there warnings prior to the 1915 massacres? Was the reason for the impending massacres known?
DEFENDANT (misunderstands the question) — At the time, I had not yet been born.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — In 1915?
DEFENDANT — We always lived in constant fear that the massacres would take place, but we knew nothing about the reasons.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Were the people fearful of such massacres?
DEFENDANT — For years they lived in fear and, for a long period of time prior to the massacres, they were afraid these would take place.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did you hear anything as to the reasons for the massacres in the conversations you had at home or on your own?
DEFENDANT — I did not understand the question.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Were any reasons for the massacres mentioned in conversations at home?
DEFENDANT — It was mentioned that the new Turkish government would take measures against us.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Perhaps the Turkish government argued that military exigencies demanded it. Generally speaking, what was said regarding the matter?
DEFENDANT — At that time, I was still quite young.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — But, at the time, you were already 18 years old.
DEFENDANT — At that time, they would tell me that there were religious and political reasons.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — I feel it would be worthwhile to include these events, prior to the incident, in your examination of the defendant.
DISTRICT ATTORNEY — I feel that it would be best if we set this aside and read the indictment.
PRESIDING JUSTICE (after consulting his associates) — This court would like to hear from the defendant in detail how these massacres came about and what his family went through. Let the defendant relate bit by bit and let what he says be translated later.
DEFENDANT — In 1914, the war started and the Armenian young men were conscripted into the army. In May 1915, word spread that alt schools were to be closed and that the leaders of the Armenian community and the teachers were to be sent elsewhere in groups.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Were they assembled at certain gathering places?
DEFENDANT — I do not know. They were assembled and taken away. I was quite fearful. I did not want to go out of the house. These groups had already been taken away when news was spread that those previously deported had been killed. Later, we received a telegram that there was only one survivor, Mardirossian, from among those deportees. In the early part of June, an order was issued for the people to get ready to leave the city. We were all told that money and valuables could be given to the government for safekeeping. Three days later, early in the morning, the people were taken out of the city.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — In large groups?
DEFENDANT — As soon as the order was issued, on the outskirts of the city, they divided the people into groups and marched them off in caravans.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Was there an order to take with you what you had?
DEFENDANT — It was impossible to take everything with us since we did not have a horse or an ox. We were able to take only what we could carry.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did you have a cart to take your belongings?.
DEFENDANT — We had a horse, but they took it as soon as the war started. We then bought a donkey.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Was the donkey to carry all your belongings? Did you not have a cart?
DEFENDANT — We had an ox cart.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — How many days did you walk?
DEFENDANT — I do not know. The very same day that we left town, my parents were killed.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Where were you being taken?
DEFENDANT — Toward the south.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Who accompanied the caravans?
DEFENDANT — Gendarmes, cavalry, and other soldiers.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — In large numbers?
DEFENDANT — They were all along the road on both sides.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — What about the front and rear of the caravan?
DEFENDANT — Just on the sides.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Was that so no one would get away?
DEFENDANT — Yes.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — How did your parents, brothers and sisters die?
DEFENDANT — As soon as the group had gone a little distance from the city, it was stopped. The gendarmes began to rob us. They wanted to take our money and anything else of value that we had.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Therefore, even the soldiers were robbing the deportees?
DEFENDANT — Yes.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — What reason was given for those acts?
DEFENDANT — Nothing was said about that. It is inexplicable to the whole world, but in the interiors of Asia Minor it is possible.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Therefore, such things were happening without the reasons being understood?
DEFENDANT — Yes, they were.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did this happen to other nationalities?
DEFENDANT — The Turks only treated the Armenians in this manner.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — How did your parents die?
DEFENDANT — While we were being plundered, they started firing on us from the front of the caravan. At that time, one of the gendarmes pulled my sister out and took her with him. My mother cried out, "May I go blind." I cannot remember that day any longer. I do not want to be reminded of that day. It is better for me to die than describe the events of that black day.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — However, I want to point out to you that, for this Court, it is very important that we hear of these events from you. You are the only one that can give us information about those events. Try to pull yourself together and not lose control.
DEFENDANT — I cannot say everything. Every time I relive those events... They took everyone away... and they struck me. Then I saw how they struck and cracked my brother's skull with an axe.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Your sister, the one whom they pulled and took with them, did she return?
DEFENDANT — Yes, they took my sister and raped her.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did she return?
DEFENDANT — No.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Who cracked your brother's skull with an axe?
DEFENDANT — As soon as the soldiers and the gendarmes began the massacres, the mob was upon us too and my brother's head was cracked open. Then my mother fell.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — From what?
DEFENDANT — I do not know, from a bullet or something else.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Where was your father?
DEFENDANT — I did not see my father; he was in another group ahead of us, but there was fighting going on there too.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — What did you do?
DEFENDANT — I was struck on the head and fell to the ground. I have no recollection of what happened after that.
PRESIDING JUSTICE Having fallen, did you remain at the site of the massacres?
DEFENDANT — I do not know how long I stayed there. Maybe it was two days. When I opened my eyes, I saw myself surrounded by corpses. All the members of the caravan had been killed. Because of the darkness I could not distinguish everything. At first I did not know where I was then I began to realize that I was surrounded by corpses.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Among the dead, did you find the bodies of your parents, brothers, and sisters?
DEFENDANT I saw my mother's body; she had fallen face down. My brother's body had fallen on top of me. I could not ascertain anything more.
PRESIDING JUSTICE What did you do when you opened your eyes and stood up?
DEFENDANT — When I stood up I realized that my leg was injured and my arm was bleeding.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did you have a wound on your head?
DEFENDANT — I was first struck on my head.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Do you know what kind of instrument they wounded you with?
DEFENDANT — When they started the massacres, I put my head in my hands so that I was not able to see what was happening. I only heard screams.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — First you said it was the guards, gendarmes, and cavalry soldiers who attacked you, but then you said the mob attacked you. What do you mean by this?
DEFENDANT — The Turkish population of Erzinga.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Then the Turkish population was there and took part in the robbery?
DEFENDANT — All I know is that when the gendarmes started the massacres, the Turkish population fell upon us.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Then, after one or two days, you regained consciousness and found yourself under your brother's body. Were you not able to determine if your parents' bodies were there too?
DEFENDANT — All I saw was my older brother's body on top of mine.
DISTRICT ATTORNEY — I believe it was your youngest brother whose head had been split open with an axe.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Was it your younger brother's body?
DEFENDANT — No, my older brother.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — But did you see your younger brother being hit by an axe in front of you?
DEFENDANT — Yes.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Have you seen your parents since that day?
DEFENDANT — No.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — And what about your brothers and sisters.
DEFENDANT — No, I have not seen them either.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Then, are they lost without a trace?
DEFENDANT — As of today, I have not found any trace.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — What did you do, finding yourself helpless and without any means?
DEFENDANT — I went to a village in the mountains. An old lady took me to her family's home but, when my wounds healed, they said they would not hide me any longer as it was contrary to the orders of the government and those who harbored Armenians would be put to death.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Were the ones who took you into their home Armenians?
DEFENDANT — No, they were Kurds.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Where did you go from there?
DEFENDANT — Those Kurds were very kind people. They advised me to go to Persia. They gave me old Kurdish clothes as mine were torn and bloodstained. I burned mine.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — You were deprived of everything. How did you manage to get by?
DEFENDANT — On barley-bread.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — How long did it take for your wounds to heal?
DEFENDANT — Twenty days or a month.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — After that, where else did you find refuge for an extended period of time?
DEFENDANT — First, I stayed with the Kurds.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — For how long? The 1915 massacres took place in June.
DEFENDANT — I stayed with the Kurds of Dersim for two months. During that time, I was joined by fugitives from whom I learned that there had been massacres in Kharpert. The three of us together escaped from village to village through the mountains. There were days when all we had to eat was grass. One of my friends died along the way from eating poisonous grass. My second friend was quite educated. He used to say: "If we continue to walk on like this, we will surely reach Persia and, from there the Caucasus. We decided we would cross the mountains and get to Persia. We used to sleep during the day and walk at night. We had walked for approximately two months when we arrived at a place where we came across Russian soldiers. We were wearing Kurdish clothes but no shoes or hat. They arrested us and began to question us. My friend, by speaking in French and English, was able to communicate to the Russians that we were survivors of a massacre. They let us go in the direction of Persia but would not allow us to cross into the Caucasus. I arrived in Persia where there was no war. I became ill and stayed in Salmasd. My friend continued on to Tiflis. Later on, I went there as well and stayed for a year.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — What were you doing in Tiflis?
DEFENDANT — As soon as I arrived there, I went to the Armenian church, where I was given food, clothing, and money. Before departing, my friend took me to an Armenian merchant. I lived with him and worked in his shop.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — How long did you stay there?
DEFENDANT — I was in Tiflis a little over a year.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Then where did you go?
DEFENDANT — We heard that the Russian army had captured Erzinga, so I decided to go back to look for my family and relatives. Furthermore, I knew we had money hidden at home so I wanted to get that money. However, the Armenian merchant tried to dissuade me.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — When did you arrive in Erzinga?
DEFENDANT — At the end of 1916.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — What did you find there?
DEFENDANT — When I arrived there I found all the doors of our house shattered. One side of the house was demolished. When I went into the house I passed out.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did you lose consciousness?
DEFENDANT — Yes, I lost consciousness.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did you stay in that condition for long?
DEFENDANT — I cannot say how long I was unconscious.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — What did you do when you regained consciousness?
DEFENDANT — After regaining consciousness, I found two Armenian families, the only survivors in the entire town. They had become Moslems.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — In other words, you found only two families left from the entire Armenian community, who had become Islamized. Now, when the Russians captured Erzinga, did they convert back to Christianity and did they feel they were Christians? Was this all that was left of the Erzinga population?
DEFENDANT — Yes, these were the only two families. Here and there, there were a number of individuals, altogether about twenty, but only these two families.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did you find any belongings at home?
DEFENDANT — Yes, I found a few items. The rest had been destroyed and burned. I also found the hidden money.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did you know about that from your parents?
DEFENDANT — My two brothers, my father, my mother, and I knew where the money was hidden; my sisters did not know.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — How much money did you find?
DEFENDANT — I found 4800 Turkish gold pieces.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did you take the money?
DEFENDANT — Of course.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Where did you go after that?
DEFENDANT — I stayed a little longer there. I was hoping that there would be other deportees who had escaped. I was hoping that I would perhaps come across one of my relatives.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — How long did you stay in Erzinga?
DEFENDANT — Approximately a month and a half.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Where did you go from there?
DEFENDANT — To Tiflis.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — What did you do there?
DEFENDANT — I went to school to learn Russian.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — What school was that?
DEFENDANT — An Armenian school called the Nersisian Academy. They had begun special classes for the exiles and refugees to attend.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did you learn Russian there?
DEFENDANT — As much as it was possible to learn in five months. I recall I could not learn very much. My mind was elsewhere. I could not concentrate.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Later on did you learn French too?
DEFENDANT — Yes, but not as much as I would have wished.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — How long did you stay in Tiflis?
DEFENDANT — Approximately two years.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — When did you leave Tiflis?
DEFENDANT — In 1919, probably in February.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Where did you go?
DEFENDANT — To Constantinople.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — What did you do there?
DEFENDANT — I put an advertisement in the paper, thinking that I could find relatives of mine who might have survived and fled from Mesopotamia.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — At that time a revolution had already taken place in Constantinople. How long did you stay in Constantinople?
DEFENDANT — Almost two months.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Where did you go from there?
DEFENDANT — Salonika, Greece.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — From there?
DEFENDANT — To Serbia.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — From there?
DEFENDANT — Back to Salonika.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — From there?
DEFENDANT — To Paris.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did you plan to settle down somewhere? What was the reason for this wandering?
DEFENDANT — I wanted to study, but my mind was all confused. I did not want to settle down in one place, since I had no special calling.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did you attend school and were you studying in Salonika and Serbia?
DEFENDANT — No. In Salonika, I stayed with relatives to receive medical attention. PRESIDING JUSTICE What disease did you have?
DEFENDANT — A nervous breakdown.
PRESIDING JUSTICE How many times did you suffer repetitions of the nervous breakdown, which you had the first time when you saw your home again?
DEFENDANT — I had two when I returned to Erzinga and saw my home, but I cannot specify what sort of breakdowns they were. Every time I pictured the massacres, I would have a breakdown.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did You have such nervous breakdowns when you were in Constantinople, Salonika, and Serbia?
DEFENDANT — Yes.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — When did you arrive in Paris?
DEFENDANT — In 1920.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — The beginning of 1920?
DEFENDANT — Yes.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did you have a lot of contact with people in Constantinople, Salonika, and Serbia?
DEFENDANT — Yes, mostly with my relatives.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did you discuss the massacre with your relatives and other refugees and, by so doing, was your memory of it revived?
DEFENDANT — Yes, I used to talk about the massacres a lot.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Who was considered responsible for these barbaric acts?
DEFENDANT — I found out who the authors of these acts were from the newspapers, while I was in Constantinople.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Prior to that, did you know who the person responsible for these massacres was? At home who was considered the author?
DEFENDANT — I did not know anything about it.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Then did you come to the conclusion that Talaat Pasha was the author of the massacres?
DEFENDANT — When I was in Constantinople, I became convinced that he was the person responsible from reading the newspapers.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — When you were in Constantinople, did you receive any information as to the whereabouts of Talaat Pasha at that time?
DEFENDANT — I thought he was hiding somewhere in Constantinople.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did you make up your mind, at that time, to take revenge against Talaat, as the one guilty for your family's sad misfortune?
DEFENDANT — No.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Fine, I think it is time the indictment is read.
DEFENSE ATTORNEY VON GORDON: — I would also like to ask the defendant whether or not he had read in the newspapers that Talaat Pasha had been condemned to death for these massacres by the Court Martial in Constantinople?
DEFENDANT — Yes, I had read that. I was also in Constantinople when Kemal, one of the authors of the massacres, was hanged. On that occasion, it was written in the papers that Talaat and Enver were also condemned to death.
VON GORDON — How many Armenians were living in Erzinga?
DEFENDANT — Roughly twenty thousand.
VON GORDON — In June 1915 was there an order or were arrangements made for the Armenians to be taken out of town in groups?
DEFENDANT — Yes, such an order was given.
DISTRICT ATTORNEY — Was this an order from the Vali [governor-general] or was it from the military authority?
VON GORDON — During this period, a state of siege had already been declared.
DEFENDANT — It was said that the orders came from Constantinople.
VON GORDON — What was the length of the caravan? Was it one hour's walk from beginning to end?
DEFENDANT — I do not know; maybe it was five hours.
VON GORDON — Was the entire population removed and deported, and did you find only two families and a few individuals on your return to Erzinga?
DEFENDANT — Yes.
NIEMEYER — Would you please ask the defendant whether he was aware that, in 1908, the Armenians, having united with the Young Turks, especially with Enver and Talaat Pashas, brought about a revolution and entrusted their national aspirations to them but then became terribly disappointed when they saw that the Young Turks behaved worse than Sultan Hamid?
DEFENDANT — In 1908, I was too young to understand such things, but later I was told that young Armenians had worked with the Young Turks and had become quite disenchanted when 40,000 Armenians were massacred in Adana in 1909.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — I would first like to have the indictment read.
CLERK — A student in Mechanical Engineering, Soghomon Tehlirian, born April 2, 1897 in Pakarij. citizen of Turkey, Armenian-Protestant, who was residing at 37 Hardenbergstrasse in Charlottenburg with Mrs. Dittmann and since March 16, 1921 is in the City Jail, is accused of: Intentionally and with premeditation assassinating the former Grand Vizir, Talaat Pasha, on March 15, 1921 in Charlottenburg. According to Article 211 of the Penal Code this is a crime of homicide. In view of the above mentioned facts, the incarceration continues.
Berlin, April 16, 1921 3rd State Court, Criminal Department No. 6.
PRESIDING JUSTICE (to the interpreter) — Please relate to the defendant that the indictment accuses him of killing Talaat Pasha with premeditation.
(The defendant remains silent)
PRESIDING JUSTICE — If you were obliged to give an answer to this indictment, would your answer be in the negative or in the affirmative?
DEFENDANT — Negative.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — But, prior to this trial, you thought differently. You admitted that you had premeditated that act.
DEFENDANT — When did I say that?
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Fine, you do not want to admit that today. Let us follow the events since your arrival in Paris... But, on various occasions and at various times, you have admitted that you had decided to kill Talaat Pasha.
VON GORDON — Would you please ask the defendant why he does not consider himself guilty?
(The Presiding Justice directs the same question to the defendant)
DEFENDANT — I do not consider my self guilty because my conscience is clear.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Why is your conscience clear?
DEFENDANT — I have killed a man. But I am not a murderer.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — You say that you have no pangs of conscience, your conscience is clear. Do you not reprove yourself? But ask yourself, did you want to kill Talaat Pasha?
DEFENDANT — I do not understand the question. But I have already killed him.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — What I want to say is, did you have a plan to kill him?
DEFENDANT — I had no such plan.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — When did the idea first occur to you to kill Talaat?
DEFENDANT — Approximately two weeks before the incident. I was feeling very bad. I kept seeing over and over again the scenes of the massacres. I saw my mothers corpse. The corpse just stood up before me and told me, You know Talaat is here and yet you do not seem to be concerned. You are no longer my son.
PRESIDING JUSTICE (repeats those words to the jury) — So what did you do?
DEFENDANT — I woke up all of a sudden and decided to kill that man.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — When you were in Paris and Geneva or at the time you came to Berlin, had you already made that decision?
DEFENDANT — I had made no decision whatsoever.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did you have a general idea that Talaat Pasha was in Berlin?
DEFENDANT — No.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did you spend the whole year 1920 in Paris?
DEFENDANT — Yes.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — What were you doing there? Did you learn French?
DEFENDANT — Yes.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Nothing else? Were you pursuing any technical study?
DEFENDANT — No, I had no other occupation.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — But did you intend to pursue those studies in Berlin?
DEFENDANT — Yes.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Was your purpose in going to Geneva to facilitate your coming to Berlin?
DEFENDANT — I wanted to see Geneva at least once.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Were you with a compatriot of yours in Paris? Tell us how you arrived in Geneva and then Berlin.
DEFENDANT — In Paris, I went to the Swiss Embassy to obtain the necessary visa to go to Switzerland. There I met an Armenian who was a citizen of Switzerland and owned a home in Geneva. I asked him how I could obtain a visa. He told me that it would facilitate matters if I claimed his home in Geneva as mine, since be was on his way to Armenia. I agreed. He gave me a letter of introduction to give to his landlady, and thus I was able to obtain a visa for Switzerland. I left Paris for Geneva on November 21st. I stayed in Geneva for a little while and then came to Berlin. In early December of 1920 I was already in Berlin.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — What steps did you take to come here?
DEFENDANT — I had a visa attached to my passport.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Initially, did you have a visa for merely a short stay in Germany?
DEFENDANT — Only for eight days.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — After arriving here, what section of Berlin did you go to?
NIEMEYER — May I ask a few personal questions of the defendant? Do you know what country you are a citizen of? On March 15th, did you know what country you were a citizen of? Do you know what country Talaat is a citizen of? Are you aware that from February 1921, Turkey and the Armenian Republic had been at war and that the fighting reached its peak between March 1 and April 1, 1921, extending over an area of 120,000 square meters?
DEFENDANT — Yes, I know.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — How do you know?
DEFENDANT — It was written in the newspapers.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — The state of war between Armenia and Turkey had existed only since March 1. This incident occurred on March 15. Did you read about it in between those dates?
DEFENDANT — Yes, I read about it in the newspapers.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — When did the war start?
DEFENDANT — At the end of 1918. The Turks came as far as Tiflis.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Was there an official declaration of war?
NIEMEYER — Yes, total.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Therefore, starting on March 1st, were the Bolsheviks and the Young Turks fighting side by side against Armenia? Were you aware that Moscow had given its blessings for the Turco-Bolshevik attack against Armenia and had sent Enver Pasha to command the front?
DEFENDANT — Yes, I knew that as well.
DR. LIEPMANN — Would you please ask the defendant whether he saw his mother in a dream or was he partially awake at the time?
PRESIDING JUSTICE — I shall get to that later. First you had a permit to remain here for only eight days. Then did you obtain a permit to remain here permanently?
DEFENDANT — Yes, I filed a petition.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — At the beginning of January did you move to Augsburgerstrasse?
DEFENDANT — In December.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — You informed the police department in January. Did your compatriot, Mr. Apelian, reside in the same building?
DEFENDANT — Yes.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Then did you change your residence?
DEFENDANT — Yes.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — When?
DEFENDANT — Almost two weeks ago.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — On March 5th, you moved to Mrs. Dittmann building. Why?
DEFENDANT — When I saw my mother in my dream, I decided to kill Talaat. For this reason, I also changed my apartment.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Were you, we might say, preparing to commit the act?
DEFENDANT — The second day after my mother instructed me what to do, I told myself I had to kill him.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — From that moment on, was it your intention to implement that decision?
DEFENDANT — When I moved to my new residence, I forgot somewhat my mothers instructions.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — You forgot about it? I thought that was the very reason you changed residences, because your mother had reprimanded you for having become indifferent.
DEFENDANT — I began to deliberate. I asked myself how I could kill a human being.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — You asked yourself how you could kill Talaat Pasha?
DEFENDANT — I told myself that I was unable to kill a human being.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — I do not understand this too well. A little while ago, you replied that, from the day your mother appeared to you, you decided to move to Hardenbergstrasse. Does this mean you knew that Talaat Pasha lived across from you?
DEFENDANT — Yes.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Then was it your intention to live near him?
DEFENDANT — After hearing the words of my mother.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — At that time you made a decision. What was that decision?
DEFENDANT — That I wanted to kill him.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Tell me, please, is it true that prior to this you had already verified that Talaat Pasha was living in Berlin?
DEFENDANT — Yes. About five weeks before I had seen him.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Where?
DEFENDANT — On the street. He was coming from the vicinity of the zoo with two or three other men. I heard they were speaking Turkish. They referred to one of their number as Pasha. I looked back and saw that the man was Talaat Pasha. I followed them until I came to a movie theater. From the entrance to the theater I saw one of them depart but, prior to doing so, he kissed the hand of Talaat and called him Pasha. The other two entered a house.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did you intend to kill Talaat Pasha at that moment?
DEFENDANT — No, I did not. But I felt bad. I entered the theater and, while watching the movie, all I could see were the pictures of the massacres. I left the theater and went home.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Therefore, as you said, all this happened four to five weeks prior to your moving to Hardenbergstrasse? DEFENDANT — Yes.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Is it not true, therefore, that even before this, you knew Talaat Pasha was living in Berlin?
DEFENDANT — No.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — The reason I asked this question is because the defendant on another occasion stated that he had come to Berlin to study and also because he knew that Talaat was living in Berlin.
VON GORDON — The statements made by the defendant today correspond to his last statement. That is, two weeks prior to the incident, the appearance of his mothers spirit made him decide to kill Talaat and for that reason he moved to Hardenbergstrasse.
DEFENDANT — Yes.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — From that moment on did you make it your business to stalk Talaat Pasha?
DEFENDANT — No, when I moved to my new apartment, I had already decided to continue with my ordinary routine.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Then, were you physically able to engage in your everyday work and continue your studies with Miss Beilenson?
DEFENDANT — I tried to advance in my studies. While I was under the care of Professor Cassirer, I felt so bad and weak that I could not work at my studies much. Consequently, I told Miss Beilenson that I could not continue to take lessons from her inasmuch as I needed a rest. In fact I was not studying during this latter period.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did you continue your relationships as usual with your fellow Armenians until March 15th?
DEFENDANT — Yes.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did your mother appear to you on that occasion?
DEFENDANT — The massacres and especially certain scenes from the massacres often appeared before my eyes. As for my mother, a few times only.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — When did you have your visions, during the day?
DEFENDANT — No, at night.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — What were your reasons for seeking the services of Professor Cassirer at that time? DEFENDANT — I was feeling very bad.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Here in Berlin you also suffered from a nervous disorder, Is that not so?
DEFENDANT — Yes, on a few occasions.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — When was the first time?
DEFENDANT — I cannot say for sure.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — When was it that you had a dizzy spelt and an employee of the bank took you from Erusalemerstrasse to your home?
DEFENDANT — That was my first attack in Berlin.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — At that time were you still living on Augsburgerstrasse?
DEFENDANT — Yes.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — How did the first attack come on?
DEFENDANT — I was walking along Erusalemerstrasse. I do not remember whether I fell down in front of the door or in the street. When I came to, I saw a crowd had gathered around me. Someone had given me medication. An officer asked me where I lived and accompanied me to the subway. I took the subway and, after reaching my house, I again passed out on the stairs.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Why did you go to Prof. Cassirer? Was it because of these attacks or did you have another illness?
DEFENDANT — I went to be treated.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did you tell your friend Mr. Apelian about passing out and was it on his advice that you went to see Prof. Cassirer? We shall elicit this evidence from the witnesses themselves.
VON GORDON — A little while back, a remark was made which was not clear to me. Did I understand the defendant correctly, that after having rented an apartment on Hardenbergstrasse, to be near the residence of Talaat Pasha, the defendant forgot the reason for his move, as he said, because he could not envisage killing a human being? In short, did the decision which he had made after the appearance of his mothers spirit stay firm or did he forget about it after a while and carry on with his usual business because he thought it was not right to kill?
PRESIDING JUSTICE — The defendant stated that he was hesitant.
DEFENDANT — Yes, I was irresolute. When I felt sick I thought of following my mothers instructions. However, when I felt better, I would tell myself that I could not take a human life.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Therefore, the defendant continued with his regular daily life, even though it was somewhat difficult for him to do so. Did you notice any change in your relationships with your friends? By the way, who were your friends?
DEFENDANT — Terzibashian, Eftian, Kaloustian, and Apelian.
PRESIDING JUSTICE (turning to the interpreter) — Were you a friend of his too?
INTERPRETER — Yes.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Since January, besides taking private lessons in German from Miss Beilenson, what else did you do?
DEFENDANT — I visited Armenian families and went to the theater and dances.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — I believe you also took dancing lessons, right?
DEFENDANT — Yes.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — When?
DEFENDANT — Since January.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Is it true that you had an attack during one of your dance classes?
DEFENDANT — Yes.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Is it true that you suffered such an attack in January?
DEFENDANT — Yes.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Other than these two attacks, one during the dance class and the other in the street, did you have any others?
DEFENDANT — Yes, at home.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Only at home? Not in the streets?
DEFENDANT — No.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — What else did you do to pass the time?
DEFENDANT — I had a very close relationship with Terzibashian, Eftian, and Apelian.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did you go to the theater?
DEFENDANT — Yes, but I used to go to the movies more often.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — How did you keep busy during an average day?
DEFENDANT — In the mornings I studied languages and then had my classes with Miss Beilenson.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Where did you have your meals?
DEFENDANT — I did not go to any particular restaurant as such.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did you also have lessons in the afternoon?
DEFENDANT — My classes were mostly in the afternoon.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — In addition to language, did you pursue any technical studies?
DEFENDANT — No, I just concentrated on learning languages.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — What newspapers did you read?
DEFENDANT — When I visited Armenians, I read the Armenian papers they had.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did you read any other foreign papers?
DEFENDANT — On a few occasions I came across Russian papers and I read them.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Let us go back to the month of March when you moved into Mrs. Dittmann's apartment building. How was your relationship with your farmer landlady, Mrs. Stellbaum?
DEFENDANT — I had a very good relationship with her.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Were you satisfied with Mrs. Dittmann?
DEFENDANT — Yes.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — How did it come about that you committed this homicide?
DEFENDANT — It was because of what my mother told me. I was thinking about that and on March 15th I saw Talaat...
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Where did you see him?
DEFENDANT — While I was walking around in my room, I was reading and I saw Talaat leave his house.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did you see him leave the house?
DEFENDANT — First I saw him on the balcony of his apartment. Then, he left the house. When he stepped out of the house, my mother came to my mind. I again saw her before me. Then, I also saw Talaat, the man who was responsible for the deaths of my parents, my brothers, and my sisters.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — You also saw your relatives before your eyes and thought that Talaat Pasha was responsible not only for their deaths but also for the deaths of your fellow nationals. Did you know perhaps that Talaat was going to leave the house?
DEFENDANT — No.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Then what did you do?
DEFENDANT — The minute I saw him step out of the house, I took my pistol, ran after him, and shot him.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Where did you keep your pistol?
DEFENDANT — With my underclothes in a trunk.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Was the pistol loaded?
DEFENDANT — Yes.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — How long had you had that pistol?
DEFENDANT — I bought it when I was in Tiflis in 1919 and brought it with me. I had heard that if the Turks returned and did not find Germans there, they would again carry out massacres.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — As Talaat left the house, did you again have the vision of your mother?
DEFENDANT — I cannot say for sure. When I saw him, I saw my mother and dashed out to the street.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — When you went outside, did you see Talaat on the opposite sidewalk?
DEFENDANT — Yes, he was walking in the direction of the zoo.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did you approach him and did you deliberately cross Hardenbergstrasse?
DEFENDANT — No, I ran along the same side of the street as my apartment building. When I caught up to him, I crossed the street and was upon him.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did you see his face? Did you talk to him?
DEFENDANT — I did not speak to him. I walked past him on the sidewalk and then I shot him.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Are you sure that you passed him first? Did you shoot him as he was walking toward you or did you approach him parallel from the back and fire at him?
DEFENDANT — By the time I approached Talaat Pasha I was already behind him.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Then you shot him from the back?
DEFENDANT — Yes.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did you aim at his head?
DEFENDANT — I came very close to him.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did you hold the barrel to his head?
DEFENDANT — Yes.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Then what happened?
DEFENDANT — I only know this much. I cannot be any more specific. Talaat Pasha fell to the ground, blood gushed from his face, and a crowd was standing all around him.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did you see anyone accompanying Talaat?
DEFENDANT — No, I did not see anyone.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did you not see his wife either?
DEFENDANT — No.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — What did you do after the killing?
DEFENDANT — I do not know what I did.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — You escaped. Do you not remember that you fled the scene?
DEFENDANT — I do not remember running away. All I saw was blood flowing and that there was a crowd around him.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did you flee after seeing that?
DEFENDANT — When I saw the crowd standing around me, I figured they might beat me. That is why I ran away.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Were you apprehended right next to the body or was it after you ran away?
DEFENDANT — I do not know how it happened.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — You had run quite a way toward Fazanenstrasse. Is that not true?
DEFENDANT — I do not know.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — You threw your pistol away, is that not true?
DEFENDANT — I do not know.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — What feeling did you have, seeing Talaat Pasha dead before you? What were your thoughts?
DEFENDANT — I do not know what I felt immediately after the incident.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — But after a while you must have realized what you had done.
DEFENDANT — I realized what I had done after they brought me to the police station.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Then, what did you think of what you had done?
DEFENDANT — I felt a great satisfaction.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — How do you feel about it now?
DEFENDANT — Even today, I feel a great sense of satisfaction.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — You are aware, of course, that under normal circumstances, no one has the right to be his own judge, no matter how much one has suffered.
DEFENDANT — I do not know. My mother instructed me to kill Talaat Pasha since he was guilty for the massacres and I was under this compulsion so entirely that I did not realize that I should not have killed.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — But did you know that our laws prohibit the killing of human beings?
DEFENDANT — No, I do not know that law.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Is there a rule of vendetta among the Armenians?
DEFENDANT — No.
NIEMEYER — At the time the crowd was beating you up and while you were bleeding, you said something. Do you remember what you said to the crowd in order to justify your act?
PRESIDING JUSTICE — His testimony would seem to indicate that he did not run away. He only saw the blood and the crowd and he was arrested on the spot. Do you remember whether or not someone from the crowd spoke to you or did you say anything to any one of those who grabbed you and were beating you? Did you justify your action to them?
DEFENDANT — I told them that I was a foreigner, the victim was foreigner, and therefore why should the Germans get involved in something that did not concern them?
PRESIDING JUSTICE — You supposedly told the crowd that you knew what your were doing, that it was no loss to Germany.
(Defendant repeats his last remark)
NIEMEYER — Did you know that such an act would be punishable in Germany? I would like an explanation.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — That point has already been explained. The defendant has been incarcerated from the day he committed the crime. There is no contradiction whatsoever between the testimony he has given today and the confession he has previously given.
VON GORDON — On which floor of 34 Hardenbergstrasse did you live? Talaat Pasha lived at 4 Hardenbergstrasse — that is, in the house between Schillerstrasse and Gnezebegstrasse.
DEFENDANT — I lived on the first floor.
VON GORDON — On March 15th you saw Talaat Pasha leave his house. You took your revolver, put on your hat, descended the stairs, and came out to the street. At that time, as far as I can tell, Talaat Pasha must have already gone some distance past Gnezebegstrasse.
DEFENDANT — I told you already that in order to catch up with him, I ran.
VON GORDON — In that case you walked over some plants in the middle of Hardenbergstrasse. Were you ahead of Talaat?
PRESIDING JUSTICE — The defendant has emphatically denied that he approached Talaat from behind.
VON GORDON — Please put the question again to the defendant.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Explain this matter again.
DEFENDANT — I went ahead of Talaat Pasha and waited for him. When he passed me, I fired.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — That sounds quite feeble-minded to me. Talaat Pasha could Have seen you and could have suspected that you were contriving to do something against him. That was really a foolish move. Are you sure you did not approach Talaat from behind?
DEFENDANT — I did not think of such things.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — There are two possibilities. Either you approached Talaat Pasha from behind or you went ahead of him. We are still unable to determine whether or not Talaat Pasha passed you.
VON GORDON — From what the defendant has testified, I understand it to mean that Talaat passed the defendant. This is what the defendant has repeatedly stated. Did you see Talaat's face?
DEFENDANT — Yes, while I was walking on the other side of the street, before I crossed over to the side on which he was walking.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — We shall see what the other witnesses testify on this point.
DISTRICT ATTORNEY — In answer to a question put by one of the defense counsels, the defendant stated that he was aware Talaat Pasha had been sentenced to death in Constantinople. It is true there was such a verdict, but it is essential for me to clarify that the verdict was rendered when the control of the city of Constantinople was in the hands of a different government. Turkey had lost the war and Constantinople was at the mercy of the British Navy. I leave it to the court to determine what value that death sentence had. I would like the defendant to answer a question. He said that he had found his brothers body. Did he bury his brother?
DEFENDANT — No.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — The defendant fled. His life was in danger.
DISTRICT ATTORNEY — The defendant also testified that he received medical treatment. Does he have wounds or scars on his body?
DEFENDANT — Certainly.
DISTRICT ATTORNEY — I request that such be confirmed later on. I would like the defendant to be asked again the following question: How did he know that person was Talaat? Had he seen him before or did he recognize him from the pictures he had seen?
DEFENDANT — No, I had never seen him. I recognized him only from pictures in the newspapers.
DISTRICT ATTORNEY — The defendant testified that the massacres took place just outside the city limits of Erzinga. I am informed that, after the caravan had gone quite a distance from Erzinga, armed Kurdish bandits attacked the caravan in a pass and even many Turkish gendarmes were killed trying to protect the caravan. Would the defendant please answer whether or not they were attacked by Kurdish bandits?
DEFENDANT — I was told that it was the Turkish gendarmes who opened fire on us.
NIEMEYER — I hope the matter of these Kurdish bandits will be clarified.
DISTRICT ATTORNEY — It seems quite strange to me that the defendant was able to find a place on Hardenbergstrasse in such a short period of time.
NIEMEYER — I believe we can resolve the question of the Kurds this way. The principal modus operandi of the Turkish massacres was to arm the mountainous Kurds, the arch-enemies of the Armenians, as gendarmes to watch over the Armenians.
DEFENDANT — There are various types of Kurds. Some were the enemies of the Armenians, while others were quite friendly to them.
NIEMEYER — The defendant stated that he found refuge among the Kurds. Thus there are good Kurds and bad Kurds. This is evident from the defendants statement that the Kurds were very hospitable to him. But there are also Kurds who are friendly with the Turkish government.
DEFENDANT — The majority of the Kurds worked for the government.
WERTHAUER — How old were your parents when your father died?
DEFENDANT — My father was fifty-five; my mother, fifty-two or fifty-three; my brothers, twenty-eight and twenty-two; one sister, twenty-six or twenty-seven; another, sixteen and a half; and the youngest fifteen.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Was your married sister deported together with her husband and child?
DEFENDANT — Yes, they left together but, in the caravan, they were a little apart from each other.
WERTHAUER — The defendant stated today that, except for his brothers body, he did not see the corpses of any of his relatives. However, he had told me something else before. Perhaps there was a misunderstanding. I would like to ask him whether or not he saw one of his sisters disappear into the far-off brush and whether or not he again found that sister?
DEFENDANT — I saw my mother fall, my dead brother, and other corpses. I could not verify any others, as I was trying to escape.
WERTHAUER — You testified that in Erzinga there were 20,000 Armenian Christians. What other nationalities were there?
DEFENDANT — There were some 20,000-25,000 Turks living in Erzinga.
WERTHAUER — Were notices posted on the walls instructing the Armenians to leave their houses or were oral instructions to this effect given? How were 20,000 Armenians informed in such a short time? As I understood, it all happened during the course of one morning. A few moments ago, I understood that the orders were given for the Armenians to leave the city. How did this happen?
DEFENDANT — The Armenians living in the city and in the surrounding areas were gathered together and taken out of the city. Those left behind were driven out later.
WERTHAUER — Was the order from the government?
DEFENDANT — Yes, we were told that the order came from Constantinople; it was Talaat Pashas order.
WERTHAUER — At the time were you told that the order had come from Talaat Pasha?
DEFENDANT — Yes, that is what was said. That was the news that was circulated.
WERTHAUER — Would you please ask the defendant whether the schools were closed in February, whereas he remained in Erzinga until May?
PRESIDING JUSTICE — The defendant has already told us that the schools were closed a month before the incident.
DEFENDANT — Two or three months before the incident.
WERTHAUER — Would you please ask him whether the money he found at home was in gold coins?
DEFENDANT — It was gold coins.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Was that money sufficient to last you all this time?
DEFENDANT — Yes.
WERTHAUER — The amount was 4800 Turkish gold pounds; one Turkish pound is worth 20 gold marks.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Are you stilt living on that money?
DEFENDANT — Yes.
VON GORDON — When they dragged away your younger sister, did you hear her cry out?
DEFENDANT — Yes, I heard her cry and my mother saw her too. My mother came next to me and cried out, May I be struck blind.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Are there any questions to be directed to the defendant?
DISTRICT ATTORNEY — I would like one more explanation. How did the defendant bring that money into Germany?
DEFENDANT — I had same in my pockets and the rest in my suitcase.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — If there are no other questions, let us start calling some of the witnesses.
Witness Nicholas Jessen (a merchant from Charlottenburg District of Berlin, Protestant, 40 years old) takes the oath.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Were you an eyewitness?
WITNESS — Yes.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Would you relate to us what you saw?
WITNESS — On Tuesday, March 15th, at 11:00 o'clock in the morning, I was walking along Hardenbergstrasse going toward Wittenberg Square to see various customers. I am a representative of a meat packing company. Ahead of me, a man wearing a gray Ulster coat was walking slowly. All at once this defendant passed me going at a brisk pace. He put his hand in his pocket
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Where were you going? Were you walking on the right-hand sidewalk?
WITNESS — Yes, I was going toward the zoo.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — During that time, did the defendant walk past you on the sidewalk?
WITNESS — Yes.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did he take the revolver out of his pocket? Which pocket?
WITNESS — I am not certain of the details. I believe he took the revolver out of his right breast pocket. In any case it was a revolver. He took it out of his pocket and fired at the victims head, at close range, from behind. The victim immediately fell forward, hitting the ground and cracking his skull. The defendant threw the revolver aside and tried to escape. A woman was walking a little way ahead of the victim; she also fell unconscious. First I lifted the woman up, thinking she too was injured. Then I started running after the defendant and I apprehended him on Fazanenstrasse. Naturally a crowd gathered and the people started mercilessly hitting the defendant. One man, in particular, kept hitting the defendants head with a key. Others were shouting, Catch the murderer. I took the defendant to the police station next to the zoo. There the defendant asked for a cigarette. A crowd also formed at the police station and began to beat the defendant.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Are you altogether certain that the defendant walked past you on the sidewalk?
WITNESS — Yes.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — And he fired at the nape of the victims neck?
WITNESS — Yes.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did he not perhaps cross over from the opposite side and, after letting Talaat Pasha pass him, fire from the back?
WITNESS — No.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did he see the victims face from the front?
WITNESS — No. I have to contradict that. The defendant advanced at a fast clip and, without saying anything, took out the revolver and fired at the nape of the victims neck.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did he fall to the ground immediately?
WITNESS — He fell forward.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did the defendant not wait at all?
WITNESS — No.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did he flee immediately?
WITNESS — Yes. He entered Fazanenstrasse and headed in the direction of Kantstrasse.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — In which direction was the woman walking?
WITNESS — The woman was walking ahead of the victim.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Was she not walking next to him?
WITNESS — No.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Was she accompanying the victim?
WITNESS — No.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — And she fainted?
WITNESS — Yes.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Was there anyone else close by the victim?
WITNESS — No.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Were you the first to get to the victims body?
WITNESS — First, I lifted the woman up.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Was it only then that you noticed the victim was already dead?
WITNESS — Yes.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — At that time did others arrive on the scene?
WITNESS — A furniture truck was passing by then and a man came out of a villa with his servants.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Are there any other questions to be directed to this witness?
(No further questions)
Witness Boleslav Dembicki (a servant from Charlottenburg District of Berlin, 32 years old) takes the oath.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Would you tell us what you know about the incident?
WITNESS — I was walking on Hardenbergstrasse on my way home to have lunch.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — In which direction were you walking?
WITNESS — I was going toward the zoo.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — On the right side of the street?
WITNESS — Yes. The defendant reached me at the corner of Fazanenstrasse.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Were you walking on the sidewalk?
WITNESS — Yes, the defendant reached me three or four steps away from the victim. All of a sudden I heard an explosion. I thought a tire had blown out nearby. But then I saw a man fall down in front of me and another began to flee.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did he start to flee right away?
WITNESS — Yes, immediately. And, I started to run after him. The defendant entered Fazanenstrasse from the left side but a number of people were in front of him in the street and he could not escape. The witness who just testified was the one who apprehended him. From there we took the defendant to the precinct station next to the zoo.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Are you sure that the man who passed you was the defendant?
WITNESS — Yes.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did the defendant see the victim from the front or did he move up on the victim from the back?
WITNESS — The defendant went up to the victim from behind, took the revolver out and fired at him.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did he pass you, coming on the sidewalk?
WITNESS — Yes, he made a slight turn, looked at the balcony of one of the buildings, walked up to the victim, and fired.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — After the incident, did you hear the defendant make any exclamatory remarks?
WITNESS — No.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did people ask him questions? Did he justify his actions?
WITNESS — He was a foreigner, he said. I am a foreigner too. There is no loss.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Where did he utter those words?
WITNESS — At the guard house.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did he stay next to the victims body?
WITNESS — No.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Right after firing his revolver, did he throw it away and flee?
WITNESS — Yes.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — And did you run after him?
WITNESS — Yes.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did you notice if there was a woman walking either alongside the victim or a little ahead of him?
WITNESS — No, I did not notice that.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Then there was no one immediately next to the victim?
WITNESS — No, there was no one.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Then you saw the victim walk calmly down the street?
WITNESS — Yes, very calmly.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — And there was no one next to him?
WITNESS — No.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Then were you and Mr. Essen the first ones to get to the body or were there others?
WITNESS — We were the first ones.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Are there any other questions to be directed to the witness?
(No further questions. The questioning of the next witness, Talaat Pasha's widow, was considered superfluous because it came to light that the statements, according to which she was the woman who, at the time of the murder, was with Talaat Pasha and had fainted, were incorrect.)
Witness Paul Schultze (Chief of Police, Charlottenburg District of Berlin, 47 years old) takes the oath.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — What do you have to say about the incident?
WITNESS — On the day in question, I was informed by telephone that a homicide had been committed on Hardenbergstrasse and that the murderer had been apprehended. I went to the scene of the crime and saw the victim on the sidewalk. The area was cordoned off by the police.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did you not carry out any investigation at the scene of the crime?
WITNESS — No.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did you concentrate your attention on the victim or on the defendant?
WITNESS — I was busy with the corpse. I took all his personal belongings from his pockets. I did not see the culprit again.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — The indictment against the defendant was based then on what the witnesses told you and was not a result of any investigation on your part. Is that correct?
WITNESS — Yes.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Are there any questions to be directed to the witness?
VON GORDON — Where was the body? Was it between Fazanenstrasse and Steinplatz or between Steinplatz and Gnezebegstrasse?
WITNESS — Right in front of 17 Hardenbergstrasse, between Fazanenstrasse and Joachimstalerstrasse, and closer to Fazanenstrasse.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Any other questions?
(No further questions)
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Mr. Interpreter, would you please inform the defendant that two witnesses have just testified that he did not walk past the victim but that he walked behind the victim on the sidewalk and, after passing a few people, reached Talaat and shot him from the back.
DEFENDANT — The incident occurred just as I described it to you. I walked past the victim and then shot him from the back.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — That does not correspond to what these witnesses have testified.
VON GORDON — Perhaps the defendant was so excited at the time that he does not remember well.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Perhaps you do not recall definitely how it happened. The two witnesses stated you shot the victim from the back without walking past him.
DEFENDANT — I crossed the Street and fired from the back.
VON GORDON — I would like to ask the Presiding Justice whether the witness Resch is present, as his testimony is essential.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Let one of the officers check and see whether witness Resch has arrived.
(Witness Resch had not arrived yet.)
PRESIDING JUSTICE — I would like to bring to the attention of the preceding two witnesses, Mr. Jessen and Mr. Dembicki, the fact that the defendant has given testimony which is contrary to theirs. The defendant indicates that he crossed the street and was ahead of Talaat. He allowed Talaat to pass him. Then the defendant walked past you both on the right-hand sidewalk and shot Talaat from the back.
JESSEN — Perhaps the defendant is right. However, the defendant walked past me twenty meters before the spot where Talaat was shot. Perhaps he crossed the alley next to the Music School.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Then, in that case, did he reach Talaat some distance ahead?
DEMBICKI — He approached the victim on the sidewalk of Hardenbergstrasse and reached him on Fazanenstrasse.
JESSEN — I asked the defendant immediately why he had shot the man. He replied, I am an Armenian. He is a Turk. It is no loss to Germany.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — I believe the defendant probably made that statement later.
JESSEN — I asked him why he had shot the man. Then I searched him to see if he had another gun or perhaps a knife. He then said, I am an Armenian. He is a Turk. It is no loss to Germany. He made this statement some five minutes after the act.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — There is still a discrepancy in these statements. But they are not conflicting. Both statements could be true.
VON GORDON — For me the question is quite clear. Witness Resch’s statement corresponds to what the defendant said and is contrary to the testimony of Jessen and Dembicki
Witness Captain Gnass (Police Department, Charlottenburg District of Berlin) takes the oath.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — What do you know about the incident? Did You examine the body and arrange for it to be removed?
WITNESS — I was informed on Tuesday, March 15, at noon that a Turk had been shot on Hardenbergstrasse. The culprit was apprehended and beaten. A day later, I examined the body of the victim and found a bullet hole above the left eye. One could put ones finger into it. I looked with some skepticism at the hole above the left eye. I could not see any injury whatsoever in the back of the head, even though it was covered with blood. In the afternoon I summoned the guilty party. Unfortunately, we had difficulty communicating with each other. I heard that he had admitted killing the victim because he considered the victim responsible for the deaths of his parents. I asked him if he spoke German and how he had killed the victim. I held the revolver in my hand and asked the defendant to show me how he had committed the crime. I held the gun in front of my head and asked him if that is how he had fired. He said no, and indicated that he shot from the back. He did not want to say anything more than that. In the District Attorneys office, he asserted he had committed the crime because he believed the victim to be responsible for his parents deaths. Through further investigation we were able to ascertain that the defendant had come from Geneva at the beginning of March to Berlin-Schöneberg and was living at 51 Augsburgerstrasse.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — In January?
WITNESS — Yes, in January. In March he changed his residence. I tried to determine the reason for his moving but I could not ascertain any valid reason. At 37 Hardenbergstrasse — the defendants high, ground-floor apartment — faced directly onto the victims apartment. Thus, the defendant had the opportunity to keep the victim under house surveillance. On the day of the incident, a witness declared that he was walking on Hardenbergstrasse, while the defendant was coming from the opposite direction. At the Music School, the defendant crossed the street. Also, a woman was walking ahead of the victim. The defendant approached the victim, took the revolver out of his coat pocket and, without any hesitation, fired. The victim immediately fell to the ground. The defendant bent over him to make certain he was dead and then escaped.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — On that occasion, do you remember if you interrogated witness Resch, who has not arrived yet in this courtroom? Do you remember if you had any discussion as to whether the defendant shot from the back or whether he allowed him to first go past and then shot him?
WITNESS — I do not remember if it was witness Resch or not who stated that he perhaps saw that the defendant came upon the victim from the front or from the back.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — What does that mean, from the front or the back?
WITNESS — That he fired at the victim from the back.
NIEMEYER — I believe both perceptions are reconcilable. When one crosses the Street, it is only natural that he would fall behind a person walking on the other side. This is true even if, at the time one person started crossing the street, both were walking parallel to each other. This is especially likely when you consider that Hardenbergstrasse is a very wide boulevard. In my opinion the defendant walked past the victim.
WERTHAUER— The defendant did not live on the ground floor, but rather the first floor.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — He previously said the first floor. He probably meant to say the high, ground floor
Witness Dr. Schloss (42 years old, Charlottenburg, Seventh Sanitary Division) takes the oath.
WITNESS — On March 15th word reached the Seventh Sanitary Patrol Unit from the Sanitary Division of the zoo that a crime had been committed on Hardenbergstrasse. I went there. The street had been closed off by the police. The victim had a bullet hole in the back of his head. I did not feel it necessary to conduct a detailed examination. So much blood had gushed out from the opening that I could not see much more. I have nothing more to add.
(The witness is excused)
Witness Dr. Schmulinsky (Medical Advisor, Charlottenburg, 63 years old) takes the oath.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — On March 15th you performed an autopsy on Talaat Pasha with Dr. Till. Would you give us the results of your examination?
WITNESS — We found a large circular opening in the back of his head. The wound contained countless pieces of pulverized bone. Upon dissecting, we discovered that the brain had become totally black and was bathed in blood. The back of the head was completely smashed and so much blood had gushed to his brain that death was instantaneous. In all probability. he also suffered a heart attack a split second later.
(The witness is excused)
Expert witness Mr. Barella (royal antis maker and munitions expert, Berlin) takes the oath.
Mr. Barella examines the revolver.
PRESIDING JUSTICE (looking at the defendant) — Did you use this weapon to kill Talaat Pasha
DEFENDANT — I cannot be certain.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — You had the weapon for a considerable period of time; you must be able to recognize your revolver.
DEFENDANT — It locks as though it is the same as mine.
WITNESS — Its barrel has a diameter of 8-9 mm. It is a weapon officially approved for use by the German Army. It is an automatic and is capable of firing eight bullets without reloading. It is war surplus and was made in 1915 by the Deutsche Waffen und Munitionsfabrik. The bullets are from army stores.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Can you tell whether or not the weapon has been used extensively?
WITNESS — It is fairly new. In any event, it has been well kept.
PRESIDING JUSTICE (looking at the defendant) — Have you used the weapon at any other time?
DEFENDANT — No.
(No more questions are directed to the witness)
Witness Elizabeth Stellbaum (landlady at 51 Augsburgerstrasse in Berlin, 63 years old, Protestant) takes the oath.
WITNESS — The defendant lived in my building. I have only complimentary things to say about him. He was very well behaved and modest. I have no maid and, therefore, I do all the housework. The defendant always did whatever he could to make my job easier. For example, he used to polish his own shoes. In every respect, he was decent and modest.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Was he ever sick?
WITNESS — He became sick just before Christmas, a few days after he had moved in. For that reason he was late in reporting his new address to the police. From the very first day, I wanted to let the police know where he was, but he had to report personally. On account of his illness he was late. It was a few days after he had moved in. I was in the kitchen when I heard someone fumbling with his keys. I thought to myself that it was probably my new tenant and that he still was not used to using the key. I came to the door and when I saw the defendant he looked odd to me. I thought he was drunk. He greeted me, but I thought he was quite disturbed. He went to his room and I entered my apartment. I listened, expecting him to turn on the gas heater. I heard him use the washbasin and then I heard him sit in the armchair and then there was quiet. I stood outside his door listening, but all was quiet. The next day I did not hear anything about what happened the night before and I told my other tenant, Mr. Apelian, that Tehlirian had been drunk the night before. I asked him to tell the defendant that I would not tolerate drunks in my house. I understood Mr. Apelian talked to Mr. Tehlirian about it.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did he seem to be sick at any other time?
WITNESS — He was very nervous and could not sleep. Whenever anyone asked him how he was, he always said the same thing.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Do you know which physician he used to go to?
WITNESS — Yes, Professor Cassirer. I recommended a doctor to him specializing in nervous disorders who lived somewhere on Potsdamerstrasse. I do not know the exact address. Acquaintances of mine had told me about him. He was not Dr. Haake in any case.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — What else car you tell us about him? Was he neat?
WITNESS — Very neat.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Do you know that he took dancing lessons?
WITNESS — Yes.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did other Armenians come to visit him often?
WITNESS — Only one person, Levon Eftian.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did he often go out with Mr. Apelian?
WITNESS — Yes.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Were you not surprised when he suddenly moved elsewhere?
WITNESS — Of course I was.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — What did you say about it then?
WITNESS — He wanted to stay with me until May 1st. So I told him, I thought you were going to stay with me until May 1st. He told me that his doctor had recommended that he should look for a room with sunlight, as gaslight was bad for his health. I believed what he said because he was a very nervous person. He moved on March 5th. His roam was next to mine and I could hear everything that went on in his room. At night he seemed to have nightmares.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did he seem normal to you? Was he in possession of his faculties?
WITNESS — He was never impolite. He was very kind and polite. I have only nice things to say about him.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did you not know anything about his epileptic seizures? Once, as he entered the building, he supposedly fell down.
WITNESS — Yes, that is the incident I described previously.
PRESIDING JUSTICE (to the interpreter) — Would you please tell the defendant that this witness did not testify against him. She only said that she had seen him sick on one occasion.
(Looking at the attorneys) Are there any other questions to be asked of the witness?
VON GORDON — Did the defendant play any musical instruments?
WITNESS — Yes, he always played his mandolin.
VON GORDON — Did he ever sing?
WITNESS — Yes, he used to sing very melancholy tunes. He always had the mandolin in his hands and, when he was alone, he used to walk back and forth in the room with it in his hands.
VON GORDON — While he was playing his mandolin, did he frequently turn the gas lights off?
WITNESS — Yes, once while the other gentleman was in his room, I went to his apartment and opened the door as I wanted to speak to him. I noticed that both of them were sitting in the dark, smoking and playing their musical instruments. They told me that a better mood was created in the dark.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Was it more mystical?
DR. LIEPMANN — The witness said that the defendant was very nervous. What did she mean by that? Was he very serious?
WITNESS — Yes, he was very serious. He was always serious.
DR. LIEPMANN — More sad than jovial?
WITNESS — Yes.
DR. LIEPMANN — Was he not full of life like others of his age?
WITNESS — Many times I wondered why he was so depressed.
DR. LIEPMANN — Was he lost in thought? Did it seem as if he was preoccupied with something else?
WITNESS — No and, besides, I did not have that much contact with him.
DR. LIEPMANN — What do you mean when you say that he was nervous? Do you mean that his mind wandered?
WITNESS — Yes, many times he would talk out loud to himself, making me think there was someone with him.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — In the daytime too?
WITNESS — No, at night.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — The expert witness is asking whether he was often absent-minded.
DR. LIEPMANN — Did he keep much to himself? Was he reserved?
WITNESS — Yes, he was always reserved and serious. As soon as he came home, he would pick up the mandolin and play.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did he ever speak about the future to you?
WITNESS — No.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did you ever ask him why he came to Berlin?
WITNESS — He said he came to study and, indeed, the second day after his arrival he had already found a woman language teacher.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — While he was staying with you did you ever notice a significant change in his emotional state.
WITNESS — No.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — ... or in his manner of living?
WITNESS — No, he always remained the same. But there were times when I heard him whistle; after all, a man cannot be sad all the time. In general, he was a serious, unique sort of person.
VON GORDON — Did he ever tell you about his past? Did he speak about the loss of his parents?
WITNESS — No, a few days after he left me, he came to obtain papers to take to the police department to notify them of his change of address. At that time I asked him about his past, and he told me how he had returned home and found everything in ruins. He also told me his parents, sisters and older brother were killed and he was the only survivor, but that he could not relate the story definitively. This is what he told me then. He cut the conversation short. I noticed he did not want to talk about it any longer.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did you notice him getting very emotional as he related his story?
WITNESS — Yes, yes. As it was, he only told me this much and only because I asked him to.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did you wish to establish the reason for his moving?
WITNESS — No, no. His friend was still living with me. He said he wanted to speak with him; then he told about his room and at that time I asked him.
(No other questions are directed to the witness)
Witness Mrs. Dittmann (landlady at 37 Hardenbergstrasse in Charlottenburg District of Berlin) takes the oath.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — The defendant lived with you for a few weeks. Can you tell us something about his behavior and conduct?
WITNESS — He was a kind, modest, quiet, and clean young man. He kept everything in order. On the morning of March 15th, the day the incident occurred, the maid came in to tell me that the defendant was in his room crying. I told the maid that maybe there was a death in his family and that it was best if we left him alone. I could not help him since he did not understand me. A little while later, I thought I would go up to see how he was doing. I was surprised to find him sitting in his room, drinking cognac. He remained in his room for some time and then left. After he had gone, I went up to his room and saw that the bottle of cognac, from which he had drunk, was still on the table.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Do you know perhaps when he bought the bottle of cognac?
WITNESS — The maid told me the same morning.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — How much of the bottle had he drunk?
WITNESS — Almost one third. It was a three-quarter liter bottle of French cognac.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — What else did he eat the same morning?
WITNESS — Like any other day he had his cup of tea.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did you have any suspicion as to what he was going to do?
WITNESS — Not at all. It was only when the maid came to tell me, Mrs. Dittmann, our gentleman has been killed. I responded What are you crazy or something? Later, I heard that he had killed someone. At first, I did not want to believe it.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did the defendant appear to have his usual comportment that day, or would you say that he was suffering deep down inside and seemed absent-minded?
WITNESS — One of his friends came one day and told me that the defendant was sick and needed a room that had sunlight.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — When the defendant came to you, did you notice anything peculiar about him?
WITNESS — No.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — The whole time he stayed with you, did you notice anything peculiar?
WITNESS — No.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did he study?
WITNESS — Yes, he rarely went out.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did he have any visitors?
WITNESS — None at all.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did he play a musical instrument?
WITNESS — No.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did he seem nervous to you?
WITNESS — Yes.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did he seem hesitant?
WITNESS — He would not look me straight in the eye. He would get confused. He was always apprehensive and shy.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Was he frightened of anything?
WITNESS — He had a frightened took.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did he seem to suffer from deep emotions?
WITNESS — Yes.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did he ever get incoherent, giving wrong and confusing answers to simple questions?
WITNESS — No, I cannot say that he did.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did you ever notice that he looked sick?
WITNESS — No, but he said that he was nervous and sick.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did you ever notice if he had epileptic seizures while he was in your building?
WITNESS — No.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Therefore, in conclusion, you only have complimentary things to say about him.
WITNESS — Yes, he was a very proper young man.
PRESIDING JUSTICE (to the interpreter) — Would you please tell the defendant that this witness also testified in his favor?
PRESIDING JUSTICE (to the defendant) — Who went with you to rent the apartment?
DEFENDANT — The president of the Armenian Students Association of Berlin.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Is he here today?
DEFENDANT — No.
DR. CASSIRER — I would like to verify whether the defendant remembers why he was crying on March 15th and whether he bought the cognac that day.
DEFENDANT — I bought the cognac the day before, as I felt weak. I had a shot that evening and another the next morning with my tea.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did you have a lot to drink the day of the incident?
DEFENDANT — No, I only drank a little bit with my tea.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did you ask the maid for a glass?
DEFENDANT — Yes, I needed a glass to measure a shot.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — The defendant insists that he drank very little. Did he cry that same morning?
WITNESS — Yes, I heard him.
VON GORDON — Was it not, perhaps, a sad song you heard?
WITNESS — It is possible. They do have such sad songs. But I thought he was crying.
PRESIDING JUSTICE (to the defendant) — Do you remember if, on the morning of the incident, you were crying or humming songs?
DEFENDANT — No.
VON GORDON (to the witness) — Did you yourself see the defendant open the bottle of cognac or was it the maid who told you that she saw it? When did you see it? Was it around seven or eight o'clock?
WITNESS — It was after nine.
VON GORDON — Then did he go out? When did he return?
WITNESS — He did not come back at all.
VON GORDON — He must have returned since you said that it was seven or eight o'clock when he left the house.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — The timing may fit.
WITNESS — It was approximately eleven o'clock when he left. After he had his tea, he remained in his room. It was after eleven o'clock when I went up to put his room in order.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did you perhaps hear an unusual commotion prior to his leaving and did you think he was crying? After the defendant left, did you see that one-third of the cognac bottle had been emptied?
WITNESS — I do not know.
VON GORDON — Do you know if the bottle was opened that morning?
WITNESS — The maid would know that better than I.
PRESIDING JUSTICE (to the defendant) — Had you bought the bottle and drunk from it the day before?
DEFENDANT — I had the battle opened where I bought it.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did you drink a little with your tea that evening?
DEFENDANT — Yes, I drank some with my tea.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did you drink a glassful in the morning too?
DEFENDANT — No.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — The defendant denies having drunk the cognac from a glass. I cannot understand that.
DEFENDANT — First I measured it in the glass and then poured it into the tea.
VON GORDON — Had you noticed whether or not the defendant tried to read German and practiced his German?
WITNESS — Yes.
VON GORDON — Did he take lessons from you?
WITNESS — No, but he had homework. He said he was taking lessons.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did you see his revolver?
WITNESS — No.
DR. LIEPMANN — Did the defendant seem annoyed or depressed?
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Was he hesitant?
WITNESS — Yes, he was hesitant. (Smiling) At least I thought he was quite hesitant.
PRESIDING JUSTICE (to Mrs. Stellbaum) — Did you ever see the defendant's revolver while he was staying with you?
WITNESS — No.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did you know that he had the revolver in the trunk?
WITNESS — No.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did the defendant have a lot of personal belongings?
WITNESS — No, he had a trunk which he always left open.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did you ever open the trunk?
WITNESS — It was open. He had opened it and put it in the closet.
PRESIDING JUSTICE (to the defendant) — Where did you keep your revolver?
DEFENDANT — It most likely was in the trunk.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Even when you were at Mrs. Stellbaum's?
DEFENDANT — It was in my trunk.
WITNESS — I did not see it; he only had a piece of hand luggage.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — It is surprising that you have often looked in the trunk, but not seen the revolver.
WITNESS — I cannot say that I looked in the trunk often.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Mrs. Stellbaum, you are under oath. Have you not seen the revolver at least once?
WITNESS — Not even once.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — The witness may be excused.
(No more questions were directed to the two witnesses, Stellbaum and Dittmann)
Witness Loin Beilenson (private tutor from Berlin, 21 years old) takes the oath.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Were you teaching the defendant German?
WITNESS — Yes.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Can you tell us something about his comportment and habits?
WITNESS — Since January 18th, I have been giving lessons to the defendant. At the beginning, he used to be well prepared for his lessons, but later on he became absent-minded.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did he tell you that he was sick and was seeing a physician?
WITNESS — Later on. He told me that he had seen Professor Cassirer, that the professor had prescribed medication and that he had found it very difficult to study. On one occasion during our lessons, I noticed that he could no longer read and did not know what he had written. It was clear to me that he was sick. I told him that I saw no point in continuing with the lessons. Thus the lessons were interrupted.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Approximately when was that?
WITNESS — In February.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — He started the lessons on January 18th. When did he terminate them?
WITNESS — Approximately February 20th. In any event, it was during the latter half of February.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did he later resume the lessons?
WITNESS — He came once and told me that he was not feeling well. It was easy to see that he had an emotional trauma. He always looked sad.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did he ever speak about his sadness?
WITNESS — Only once, when I asked him about his homeland. He told me that he no longer had a homeland and that all his immediate family had been killed. This answer so clearly reflected his suffering that I did not wish to pursue the subject any further.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did you not ask him any further questions?
WITNESS — Yes, I saw him one more time on either the 27th or the 28th of February.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — How was he doing in his studies?
WITNESS — At the beginning he was learning very well. As time went by, he became more and more absent-minded. Even he kept saying, "I cannot understand a thing."
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Is it possible that he might have terminated his studies the first part of March?
WITNESS — Yes, it is possible.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Possibly a few days before March 5th, after changing his apartment?
WITNESS — He never came after moving. He only came when he was living on Augsburgerstrasse.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — It looks as though there was a reason he changed apartments and terminated his studies.
WITNESS — I do not know. In March, maybe a week or so before the incident, he called me by phone to tell me that he had changed apartments and that he wanted to resume his lessons as soon as he felt better.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Then he must have terminated his studies in the latter part of February?
WITNESS — Yes.
PRESIDING JUSTICE (to the defendant) — Was it after you had your vision that you terminated your lessons or did you have other reasons for doing so?
DEFENDANT — I terminated my lessons because I was weak and sick. I called my teacher after I changed apartments to tell her that it was my intention to resume my studies as soon as I felt better.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Then your vision had nothing to do with the termination of your studies?
DEFENDANT — I stopped studying on account of my poor health.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — While you were with Mrs. Dittmann, did you not get bored?
DEFENDANT — Why should I have gotten bored?
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Because you no longer had any studying to do.
DEFENDANT — My lessons never gave me much pleasure anyway.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — But if you had been taking lessons, at least they would have provided a change of pace for you. How did you pass your time when you were with Mrs. Dittmann?
DEFENDANT — I often visited my Armenian friends.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did you practice your German?
DEFENDANT — After getting up in the morning, I used to read German.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Was it a textbook? Did you have any other German books?
DEFENDANT — No, just my textbook.
VON GORDON — Had you advanced in German enough so that, say, you could read your indictment and understand it without too much difficulty?
DEFENDANT — I can read printed much easier than handwritten material.
(No more questions are directed to the witness Beilenson)
Witness Yervant Apelian (Secretary of the Armenian Consulate, Berlin, 23 years old, Armenian-Apostolic) takes the oath. Not related to the defendant by blood or marriage.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did you live in Mrs. Stellbaum's building on Augsburgerstrasse with the defendant and did you become friends?
WITNESS — Yes. Last year, in the middle of December, I met the defendant through mutual friends. They introduced him to me and asked me whether I could find lodging for him in the same place where I stayed, since he was a fellow Armenian and did not speak German. He desired to be with his countrymen. So I talked to my landlady and she said she would rent a room, which she had never rented out before, to my friend until May 1st. The defendant came over the next day. This was in December, after Christmas. At that time I was taking dancing lessons with dance-master Friedrich so I convinced Tehlirian to come with me to these lessons. The classes started in November. We used to take dancing lessons every Tuesday, Friday, and Sunday. This is, the three of us, Tehlirian, Eftian, and I. These private lessons continued for almost three months.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — What else did you do? Were you taking care of business at the Consulate? Did you go out every day?
WITNESS — Just in the evenings.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Were you with the defendant every day?
WITNESS — We lived together. One day I was alone with him. He said he wanted to get into the technical field. I did not pursue the matter with him. One day, during our dance lessons, he passed out. I helped him up and he regained consciousness. He was out for five or ten minutes. After coming to, he wanted to return home.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did he fall down like that at any other time?
WITNESS — No.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Was it this incident that prompted him to go and see a physician?
WITNESS — Yes. He went to Dr. Haake, who examined him. I do not know what happened after that, since I was not there.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Were you a witness to any other fainting spells, besides the one that took place during the dance class?
WITNESS — I believe he had the same sort of attacks a number of times. Once it happened on the staircase. But, I was not a witness to these. I only heard about them from him.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did he complain of headaches?
WITNESS — Yes. He said be had a headache and a wound on his head. I cannot say exactly when he complained of this. It was sometime in January before the attack on the dance floor.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — How did the defendant pass his time? Did he take lessons? Between the middle of January and the middle of February, did he take lessons from Miss Beilenson? How often were these lessons?
WITNESS — I believe three times a week.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did he study at home too?
WITNESS — Yes.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Had you noticed any other symptoms of illness, like nervousness or absent-mindedness?
WITNESS — Yes, he was very sensitive. He would get offended at the slightest remark. However, in general, we got along well.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Do you know anything about his past life? Did he tell you what happened to him in Turkey?
WITNESS — Yes, he told me that he had lost his whole family.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — When did he relate that to you?
WITNESS — It was some time ago. I cannot give the exact date.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Had you talked about who the person responsible for the fate of his relatives was?
WITNESS — No.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did he mention the presence of Talaat in Berlin or what he ought to do to him?
WITNESS — No.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Had he told you of his intention to move in with Mrs. Dittmann before doing so?
WITNESS — No, he had not told me where he was going to move. However, one day he asked me to tell Mrs. Stellbaum that he wanted to move because his physician had told him that the gas heater was detrimental to his health.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Then he had also given you health reasons as his excuse for moving?
WITNESS — Yes.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did he tell you that he had found an apartment on Hardenbergstrasse?
WITNESS — No, I did not know where it was. We were not such close friends any longer.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did he have other friends? For example, did Mr. Eftian visit him?
WITNESS — Yes, the three of us were together quite often.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Just prior to his moving, did you notice a change in his comportment or manners, or did he always behave the same?
WITNESS — He was the same.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — When he told you he was going to move, did you not raise any objections?
WITNESS — I asked him the reason for his moving.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — And did he give his health as the reason?
WITNESS — Yes.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did you know that the defendant had a revolver?
WITNESS — No.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did he have a suitcase?
WITNESS — Yes.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did you ever look in his suitcase?
WITNESS — No.
PRESIDING JUSTICE— What is your opinion — do you think he had his revolver with him when he was residing at Augsburgerstrasse?
WITNESS — That I do not know.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did he not ever talk to you about his intentions to kill Talaat Pasha?
WITNESS — No.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Had the defendant not told you he had seen Talaat in the street?
WITNESS — No.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Yet you were together quite often, were you not?
WITNESS — Yes, I wondered about that after the incident. However, we never discussed politics.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — I do not see that this is a matter of discussing politics. Did you know that Talaat Pasha was living on Hardenbergstrasse?
WITNESS — No. As I said before, Tehlirian never spoke to me about Talaat.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — He never spoke to you about Talaat?
WITNESS — No.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did the defendant have any friends besides you, Eftian, and Terzibashian?
WITNESS — Yes.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Can you tell us anything as to what motivated the defendant to act as he did, or can you tell us anything about this incident?
WITNESS — No.
VON GORDON — Had you heard about his having fainted in the middle of Erusalemerstrasse?
WITNESS — Yes.
VON GORDON — When was that? In January? February? Before or after the incident at the dance?
WITNESS — I believe it was in January.
VON GORDON — Did Tehlirian tell you that?
WITNESS — Yes.
VON GORDON — Is it the custom among the Armenians not to speak at all or to speak very little about these massacres?
WITNESS — They speak about them, but not often.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — These events are already a thing of the past.
VON GORDON — When you speak of the massacres, what in particular do you discuss the most?
WITNESS — We speak about what happened to each of our families.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did you not know yourself that Talaat was here in Berlin? And had the defendant not ever told you that?
WITNESS — No, I never spoke with him about these topics.
VON GORDON — When the defendant told you that he wanted to move, could you tell from his conversation whether or not he had already rented a room, or was he just telling you that he intended to move?
WITNESS — All he told me was that, by Saturday. he would be out.
VON GORDON — But did the defendant not tell you that he was dissatisfied with his place and that is why he wanted to get out?
WITNESS — No, he did not say that.
VON GORDON — Did you not get the feeling that he had already found a place? Otherwise he could not state so emphatically that he would be out by Saturday, which he did.
WITNESS — Yes.
VON GORDON (addressing Mrs. Dittmann) — Could you tell us Mrs. Dittmann, when the defendant came and rented a room from you? Was that room already vacant? Did he move in the same day or a few days later?
MRS. DITTMANN — He moved in Sunday morning. It was a few days, approximately 3 or 4 days, after he had rented the place. The room was not vacant until then.
PRESIDING JUSTICE (to the interpreter) — Would you please tell the defendant that Mr. Apelian has testified that he had knowledge of three fainting spells and that he gave health reasons for moving from Augsburgerstrasse. (This statement is translated.)
VON GORDON (to the witness Apelian) — How many people were taking dancing lessons?
WITNESS — About 60 to 70 people.
VON GORDON — Did the defendant try to talk to the girls? Was he withdrawn or daring?
WITNESS — On the whole, he was not forward. He never danced with any one particular girl. He was hoping to improve his German by striking up conversations with different ones.
DR. LIEPMANN — It sounds quite strange to me that, after all the defendant had gone through, he did not speak to you, his friend, about the massacres.
WITNESS — One day we were reading Professor Lepsius book an Armenia. The defendant snatched the book away from me, saying, "Do not... let us not open old wounds".
DR. LIEPMANN — Are you trying to tell us that the defendant was avoiding the topic of the massacres and did not wish to revive their memory?
WITNESS — The defendant took the book out of my hands and said, Let us put the book away and have some fun.
PROFESSOR CASSIRER — Do you know whether there was anything in particular that caused the defendant to pass out on the dance floor?
WITNESS — No, all he told me was that he did not feel well and he wanted to go home.
PROFESSOR CASSIRER — When he fell to the floor, did he cry out or just mumble? Could you make out any of the words be mumbled?
WITNESS — He did not cry out; he started mumbling.
PROFESSOR CASSIRER — Was the defendant trembling?
WITNESS — Yes, he was also foaming at the mouth.
PROFESSOR CASSIRER — Was the foam colored?
WITNESS — No.
PROFESSOR CASSIRER — How long did he tremble like that?
WITNESS — At least ten minutes.
PROFESSOR CASSIRER — Did he regain consciousness right away?
WITNESS — Yes.
DR. FORSTER — You say that there was not any particular reason for the attack. Is it not possible that, without your knowledge, the defendant may have recalled the massacres for one reason or another just prior to having had the attack?
WITNESS — I do not know. All I know is that he did have a number of these fainting spells.
PROFESSOR CASSIRER — The witness states that he does not know the cause but there must have been a definite reason for the attack. Is it not possible that, right before its onset, the defendant may have seen corpses lying all around him and thus recalled the massacres? Are you familiar with something of this sort having happened?
WITNESS — No, but he once told me that, prior to having fainting spells, he would smell a certain pungent odor and then he would fall.
DR. STÖRMER — May I remind you that you told me at the Armenian Consulate that the fall began with a loud sharp cry?
WITNESS — I cannot be certain if it was a cry or mumbling. In any event he would stumble and fall. I cannot say any more than that.
Witness Levon Eftian (Berlin, 21 years old, Armenian-Apostolic) takes the oath. Not related to the defendant by blood or marriage.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — When did you come to Berlin from Paris?
WITNESS — In February 1920.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Since then have you been living with your relatives?
WITNESS — Yes, I am staying with my brother-in-law, Mr. Terzibashian, who resides at 75 Oranienstrasse.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Does your brother-in-law have a tobacco shop there?
WITNESS — Yes.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Does your sister, his wife, also live there?
WITNESS — Yes.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — And is your sister from Erzinga?
WITNESS — No, from Garin.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Is it true that you have had frequent contact with the defendant in Berlin?
WITNESS — Yes.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did you take dancing lessons along with the defendant from Master Friedrich?
WITNESS — Yes.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did you visit the defendant white he was living at Augsburgerstrasse?
WITNESS — Two or three times.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did the defendant visit you and your relative at your home on Oranienstrasse?
WITNESS — Yes, he used to come at least once a week.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did he talk to your relatives?
WITNESS — Yes.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did you notice whether or not he was sick or suffered attacks?
WITNESS — He used to always tell us that he had a nervous disorder. He was always sad.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — What did he complain of? In what way was the sickness apparent? Could you tell by looking at him that be was disturbed, melancholic, and sad?
WITNESS — He was always sad.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Was he happy while taking dancing lessons?
WITNESS — It was mainly to boost his morale that we took him to the dancing lessons anyway. Furthermore, it was an opportunity for him to improve his German.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Why was he sad? Was it his disposition?
WITNESS — Yes.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did he ever speak about the sad memories of his past — the loss of his sisters, brothers and parents? Did he speak about the massacres?
WITNESS — My sister would often broach the subject, but the defendant did not want to talk about it.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — When did your sister return to Berlin?
WITNESS — About a year ago.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did you lose many relatives in the massacres?
WITNESS — My parents were also killed in the massacres. I came to Constantinople in 1912 and went to school for three years, until 1915. When the war broke out, I could not return to my hometown but I heard that the deportation had already started. It was only later that I learned that my parents and relatives had become victims of the massacres and only my two brothers and my sister had survived.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Where were your parents massacred?
WITNESS — In Garin.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — When did the massacres take place?
WITNESS — Between 1915 and 1916, I do not know the exact date.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did you hear about these massacres from your brothers and sister?
WITNESS — My sister was in Garin when the massacres took place. She was an eyewitness.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Do you know anything concerning the nervous disorder of the defendant?
WITNESS — I have heard about his attacks but was never present when they occurred. I have also heard that he was melancholic.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Other than the incident on the dance floor, were you present at any time when the defendant lost consciousness?
WITNESS — No.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did the defendant ever tell you that he had these fainting spells from time to time?
WITNESS — Yes. He told me that he was weak. He told me in detail how he passed out in the street several times.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did you know that the defendant did not want to stay any longer with Mrs. Stellbaum?
WITNESS — No.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did that sudden move surprise you? After all, he was living with your countryman Apelian?
WITNESS — The defendant told me he wanted to move because his room did not have an electric heater.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Do you remember when he told you this?
WITNESS — Just prior to his moving.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Then did he move right away?
WITNESS — He moved about a month later.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — He moved at the beginning of March to Hardenbergstrasse. When did he talk to you about moving?
WITNESS — The first part of February.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — He told you in early February that he wanted to move?
WITNESS — Yes.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Do you know anything about the incident in question?
WITNESS — No.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did you know that Talaat Pasha was in Berlin?
WITNESS — It never occurred to me.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Even if you did not know personally, had you not perhaps heard rumors to that effect?
WITNESS — Such rumors were going around in Constantinople.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Since you came to Berlin from Paris at the end of January 1920, have you been in Berlin the whole time?
WITNESS — In 1918, right after the armistice, it was rumored that Talaat Pasha was in Berlin. But no one knew for sure.
PRESIDING JUSTICE (to the interpreter) — Would you tell the defendant that this witness has testified that he was not an eyewitness to any of his fainting spells; that every week they would see each other and that the defendant avoided the subject of the massacres in general.
(It is translated)
VON GORDON (to the witness) — Was Talaat Pasha considered the only responsible party for the Armenian tragedy in your circles? I cannot understand how it is that none of the Armenians tried to verify whether or not Talaat was in Berlin. Did anyone care? After all, this should have aroused the greatest concern. Rumors were circulating recently that Talaat Pasha was in Berlin. Had you only heard about this in Constantinople?
WITNESS — I did not know that Talaat Pasha was in Berlin.
DEFENDANT — I did not know that either.
PRESIDING JUSTICE (to the defendant) — But you saw Talaat in the street in Berlin. Why did you not mention this important fact to your countrymen?
DEFENDANT — I was afraid they would laugh at me.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Why would they laugh at you? After all, was Talaat not considered the author of the massacres in general? Terzibashian, it seems, wanted to discuss them with you and talk about Talaat. Why did you not mention it to him?
DEFENDANT — The subject of Talaat never came up.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Why did you keep it a secret?
DEFENDANT — I had no special interest in it.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — But we are interested in knowing why you did not mention it.
DEFENDANT — If I were to mention it, they would ask a lot of questions.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Then the reason you kept it a secret was so that they would not get inquisitive and bother you with questions?
DEFENDANT — I was in such poor physical condition that I did not want to discuss the subject.
Witness Mr. Schultze (privy counselor to the court and Assistant Chief of Police, Charlottenburg District Court, Berlin, 53 years old, Protestant) takes the oath.
WITNESS — I wonder if it is essential to bring out here all that the defendant said during his first interrogation. I would propose that we not get into that.
VON GORDON — We agree.
DISTRICT ATTORNEY — I would appreciate it if we could hear Schultze.
(The Court decides to listen to the testimony of Schultze. After taking the oath.)
PRESIDING JUSTICE — You were the first one to interrogate the defendant. We would appreciate it if you could tell us what you learned from the defendant.
WITNESS — I remember the answers of the defendant quite distinctly. Without any difficulty, he confessed that he had killed Talaat Pasha deliberately and with premeditation. When I asked him for his reasons, he said that Talaat was responsible for the massacres of his relatives, or at least some of them. He told me that he had come to Berlin specifically to kill Talaat and avenge the murder of his relatives.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — When had the defendant made up his mind to kill Talaat?
WITNESS — The defendant told me that he had made up his mind in Turkey. He had purchased a revolver and had been looking for Talaat's residence. Having located it, he rented a room across from the victims house. From this vantage point, he kept Talaat's residence under surveillance and when, on the day in question, the defendant saw Talaat leave the house, he grabbed his revolver and followed his victim. So that there would be no mistake, he walked past Talaat, then turned around and looked the victim squarely in the eye. After convincing himself that this was Talaat, the defendant shot the victim from the back. This is what the defendant told me.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did you take all possible precautions during the interrogation to prevent any misunderstanding?
WITNESS — Yes.
PRESIDING JUSTICE (to the interpreter) — What do you have to say about this? Is the testimony the truth?
KALOUSTIAN — Yes. However, the defendant was in no condition to think straight at the time.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Was the interrogation conducted on March 16th?
KALOUSTIAN — The defendants head was still bandaged
PRESIDING JUSTICE (to witness Schultze) — Does the testimony you have just given correspond to the record of the March 16th interrogation?
VON GORDON — The defendant had a fever at the time.
SCHULTZE — The defendant did say that the crowd had attacked him and he had a head wound. However, at the time I interrogated him. He seemed to be quite calm and collected.
PRESIDING JUSTICE (to the defendant) — On March 16th did you confess that, in 1915, ever since you managed to escape the massacres, you had already decided to kill Talaat Pasha?
DEFENDANT — I do not remember ever having said anything like that.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Do you deny having confessed that you had planned to kill Talaat for a long time?
DEFENDANT — No, how could I possibly have said that?
PRESIDING JUSTICE — You must have said it because that is what the interpreter translated during the interrogation.
DEFENDANT — Maybe I said something like that, but I do not remember because my head was injured and bandaged on account of the inquiry.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — So you wish to say that it is probably because your head was injured at the time. From a legal point of view, it makes a significant difference whether you decided to kilt Talaat on March 1st, fourteen days before the incident, or whether you decided to kill Talaat years ago, bought a revolver back then, and came to Berlin in order to carry out your well thought out plan. There is a basic difference. Were you not aware of what you were saying at the time of the interrogation?
DEFENDANT — I do not remember what I said on that day. I have just been told that.
PRESIDING JUSTICE (to witness Schultze) — Did you pursue this line of questioning with the defendant and did he give these responses to your questions?
WITNESS — No, the defendant just confessed and told me the whole story of how he had rented the apartment opposite Talaat's house in order to keep an eye on him.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — The defendant says that even today but does not admit having had that plan in mind and having prepared to execute it for several years now.
WITNESS — As it is recorded in the transcript, the defendant confessed that he had come to Berlin as much to study German as to seek revenge.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Is there any reason why we should read the transcript?
VON GORDON — There is no need. I would like to ask the defendant if, satisfied with what he had done, he said, I did it. I certainly did it because I had sworn to do it. With this inner gratification he answered every question in the affirmative. Did you say, I had planned this for years and I am happy I did it?
DEFENDANT — I do not know.
NIEMEYER — The interrogation was carded out with the help of an interpreter. Such an interrogation could have been conducted in a confused manner. Either the interrogator was allowed to speak freely and then the interpreter translated by summarizing what was said, or the interrogator asked short precise questions which were translated for the defendant and then relayed to the interrogator. We are experiencing a similar situation today. However, thanks to the skill of the interpreter, everything is working out smoothly, as if we were getting the answer directly from the defendant. The interpreter, Mr. Zakariantz, seems to be taking the words out of the defendants mouth. He is doing an extremely competent job. Usually, when the services of an interpreter are required, it is a slow, choppy, step-by-step process. I would like to know in what manner the interrogation took place?
WITNESS — As far as I remember, I allowed the defendant to speak calmly and relate how the incident took place. Only then did I ask specific questions. This was the general format. I cannot remember the details. In any event, I allowed him to speak calmly and I assigned the interpreter the task of directing the questions and then translating his answers for me. I asked questions about his motives as well.
VON GORDON — Could you tell us whether the interpreter was very excited? Do you recall his mood?
WITNESS — On the contrary, it seemed to me that the interpreter was enjoying his work.
VON GORDON — Did he not speak excitedly about the defendant? Please describe it for us.
WITNESS — The interpreter was completely calm. He had brought sweets and pastries and offered them to the defendant. I asked him, "Why have you brought sweets to this murderer?" He replied, "What do you mean murderer? He is a great man and he has our admiration."
VON GORDON — This statement is very important.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — We still have the following witnesses to examine: Mr. and Mrs. Terzibashian and the two physicians, four altogether, if the defense attorneys do not call any others.
VON GORDON — I am sorry we are not in a position to make a decision on that today. In light of the defendants interests we consider that impossible. We can deliberate on that matter tomorrow morning.
DR. STÖRMER — I have received an open letter from the vice-president of the Medical Council requesting my presence at a meeting tomorrow morning. I shall have to leave by 10:00 A.M. tomorrow. I am also suffering from a pinched nerve and I intend to go to the doctor and get an injection to kill the pain. If not, I cannot sit here any longer. My coming tomorrow is doubtful.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — I would suggest that we postpone this matter until we find out what we can learn from the other four witnesses.
VON GORDON — We shall reserve the right to ask for additional evidence, though we shall do so in the hope that such demands not be prevented by the court employing forceful measures.
NIEMEYER — Is it not possible for Dr. Störmer to give his view alone and comprehensively, while the other physicians wait and give their testimony later on so that we can get the whole medical picture concerning the defendant from all five expert witnesses at one time?
VON GORDON — We have to be prepared and fresh to be able to cross-examine the expert witnesses, and I am sure it will take considerable time.
PRESIDING JUSTICE (to Dr. Störmer) — Can we do it this way?
DR. STÖRMER — Since I am here I shall do my duty. However, I can't say what condition I shall be in tomorrow.
(A half-hour recess is called)
Trial of Soghomon Tehlirian - First Afternoon
CONTINUATION OF THE TRIAL AFTER THE NOON RECESS
Witness Vahan Zakariantz (interpreter and merchant, 38 years old, Armenian-Apostolic, Wilmersdorf, Berlin) takes the oath. Not related to the defendant by blood or marriage.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — You are a member of the executive body of the German-Armenian Friendship Club, and you met the defendant when he came to the Armenian Consulate, is that correct?
WITNESS — No, I met the defendant at the Persian Consulate. I worked for the Persian Consulate at the beginning of the war. One day I was asked by my superior to assist the defendant. He had come to inquire about the procedure to follow in order to stay as a resident in Germany. I told him what documents he needed and how to get in touch with the Police Department.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did he ask for your help again?
WITNESS — No.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did you ever have occasion to speak to him again?
WITNESS — Yes, he had gotten hold of my address.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did the defendant live on Augsburgerstrasse?
WITNESS — I did not know where he lived as I had never visited him. He told me he was sick and needed a physician who specialized in nervous disorders. He was not satisfied with the physician he was seeing. He wanted a specialist.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did you then take him to Professor Cassirer?
WITNESS — Yes.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — When was that?
WITNESS — I do not remember exactly. I assume the Professor can tell us.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — What was the Professor s diagnosis?
WITNESS — That Tehlirian was an epileptic, but that he should not be informed of the fact.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Were you present when the Professor examined the defendant?
WITNESS — Yes.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Were you also present at subsequent examinations?
WITNESS — I was present on two occasions.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Had the defendant told you that he had an epileptic seizure once, in the street?
WITNESS — Yes.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Would you please tell us what he told you about the incident?
WITNESS — That he passed out on Erusalemerstrasse in front of a bank and that some passersby had helped him up and brought him by subway to his residence.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did he describe his condition to you in detail?
WITNESS — He could not recall it.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Has the defendant ever spoken to you about his immediate family?
WITNESS — No, but I was present when he told Professor Cassirer that the first time be lost consciousness was when he returned and found his home destroyed.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — On this occasion did you talk about the massacres with him?
WITNESS — No, as a general rule I did not discuss the massacres, particularly with others who, like him, had suffered from them. In general, I prefer not to excite people.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did you ever speak to the defendant about the massacres or what happened to his relatives?
WITNESS — No, because I knew he had suffered and I did not want to revive those painful memories.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — How did you know that?
WITNESS — Professor Cassirer told me that the defendant had lost consciousness when thinking about the massacres.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did you maintain a friendly relationship with the defendant while he was living at Augsburgerstrasse?
WITNESS — No.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did you know Mr. Eftian and Mr. Terzibashian?
WITNESS — I have known Mr. Terzibashian for some time.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Now then, you helped the defendant twice while he was going to Professor Cassirer. Were you ever present when the defendant had epileptic fits?
WITNESS — No.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Is that why you cannot tell us anything about that?
WITNESS — Yes.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did you know that Talaat Pasha was here in Berlin?
WITNESS — No, I was not aware of it personally, but it was written in the newspapers that he was living in Germany.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — What newspapers are these?
WITNESS — I cannot remember now. I read French, Armenian, Ottoman, Russian, and Persian newspapers. In one of these newspapers I read that Talaat was most likely living in Germany.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — When a member of the Armenian community encounters Talaat or another Turk in the street, would that not be such startling event that news of it would spread like wildfire among the Armenians? Did the defendant never tell you that he had seen Talaat?
WITNESS — No.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Can you tell us anything about the defendant's physical condition?
WITNESS — I have seen the defendant quite infrequently. He was always dejected and had a vacant stare.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Have you had any other contact with him?
WITNESS — Once we exchanged a few words.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did you include the defendant in any soda gatherings or outings?
WITNESS — No.
DEFENDANT — When we were at Professor Cassirer's, I told him I had fallen after having seen my family's house in ruins and that, ever since then, I have had these attacks.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — The witness also stated that he personally had never seen the defendant during any of the latter's attacks.
(No more questions are asked of the witness)
PRESIDING JUSTICE (to the second interpreter, Mr. Kaloustian) — Would you please tell the defendant that this witness testified that they met at the Persian Consulate and he helped him obtain permission to stay in Berlin, that he took the defendant on two occasions to Professor Cassirer, and that there was no discussion between them about the massacres.
Witness Kevork Kaloustian (interpreter and merchant, 27 years old, Armenian Apostolic Berlin) takes the oath. Not related to the defendant by blood or marriage.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Can you tell us anything about the defendant or the incident in question.
WITNESS — The defendant would come to my store and buy things. This is how I met him.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Exactly when did your meeting occur?
WITNESS — Three or four months before the incident.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did you have any conversation other than that of a merchant and customer?
WITNESS — The defendant told me that he was ill. I suggested that he buy chocolate to give him strength and he did. He also told me that, as he got well, he meant to continue with his studies.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — When did this conversation take place?
WITNESS — Three or four months before the incident. That is all I can say.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Had the defendant told you that whenever he had an attack, he would lose consciousness?
WITNESS — No.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Had you met the defendant prior to his coming to your store?
WITNESS — No.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Then you saw him in your store for the first time?
WITNESS — Yes, in my store.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did you see each other often?
WITNESS — He might have come another time to my store.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did you ever visit him at his residence?
WITNESS — No.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Can you tell us anything about his way of life in Berlin?
WITNESS — No, the next time I saw him was when I acted as his interpreter in Court during the preliminary hearing.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — One of the witnesses testified that, in your eyes, the defendant is a great man. Would you consider him a great man?
WITNESS — In my estimation he is a great man.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did you lose members of your family in the massacres?
WITNESS — My parents were killed in Aintab in 1896.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Were you an eyewitness to that massacre?
WITNESS — Yes, in 1896. I was five years old. It is very fresh in my memory.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Were both your parents killed at that time?
WITNESS — My father, mother, grandfather, a brother, and an uncle. I saw my father killed.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — These events took place in 1896. Could you have so sharp a memory as to remember what happened when you were only five years old?
WITNESS — Yes, it is easy to remember because the events were so terrible.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Could you have kept such a clear memory of all this?
WITNESS — These stories have been repeated so often that they have always stayed fresh in my mind.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Then you also felt an inner glow of satisfaction that this act had been committed and it was perfectly logical to you that one could have done such a thing.
WITNESS — Yes.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Do you consider the confession of the defendant before the judge to be accurate and correct?
WITNESS — No, I did not consider it correct then for the simple reason that the defendant was in no condition to be interrogated. His head was injured and bandaged at the time. He said he did this and that, that he killed Talaat. When he was asked whether he killed with premeditation, he answered yes.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Therefore you are confirming what is recorded in the transcript of the confession of March 16th. But you were under the impression that the defendant gave answers for the sake of giving answers. Did you raise this objection at the time of the interrogation?
WITNESS — Yes, that is why I purposely did not sign the transcript.
PRESIDING JUSTICE (examines the transcript) — Indeed, the interpreter has not signed said transcript.
VON GORDON — Did you refuse to sign the transcript?
WITNESS — Yes.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — The transcript bears the names of Tehlirian and a few others, but not that of the interpreter.
WITNESS — I told the interrogators that the defendant did not know what was going on, did not understand what he was saying, and that we should not interrogate him right then.
VON GORDON — Were you under the impression that the defendant had a fever?
WITNESS — I do not know. I did not examine him. I read later on in the newspapers that he had a fever. All I know is that he had the bandage around his head and seemed to be satisfied. He kept saying, I killed him. I killed him.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Was there any discussion about your not signing the transcript? Did the interrogator ask you to sign the transcript?
WITNESS — I told the interrogator that I could not sign the transcript because I was not sure that the defendant understood the questions or the answers that he gave.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — There is grave doubt as to the validity of the contents of this transcript in terms of its acceptability as evidence.
NIEMEYER — It is impossible to accept this document as a transcript. This is not the transcript of the interrogation since it has not been acknowledged that the interpreter interpreted what is included in these pages.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — In any case, you met the defendant in your store and, other than during the interrogation, you had no other contact with him.
WITNESS — No.
PRESIDING JUSTICE (to the defendant) — Do you recall that the witness did not want to sign the transcript?
DEFENDANT — I do not remember.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Are there any more questions to be directed to this witness?
(There are none)
Witness Mr. Friedrich (dance Instructor) takes the oath.
VON GORDON — I believe there is nothing Mr. Friedrich can add to what has already been established — namely that the defendant took dancing lessons from him and that he had a fainting spell. We will dispense with asking any questions of this witness.
(Witness is excused)
Witness Mr. Terzibashian (tobacconist, 29 years old, Catholic, Berlin) takes the oath. Not related to the defendant by blood or marriage.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Do you know the defendant?
WITNESS — Yes. I have known him since December 19, 1920.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Is that when the defendant came to Berlin from Paris and, through Mr. Eftian, met you and your family?
WITNESS — Yes.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — The defendant knew Mr. Eftian from Paris, is that not right?
WITNESS — Yes.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — You have a shop located at 75 Oranienstrasse, is that not so?
WITNESS — Yes, I have a tobacco shop.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Are you and your wife Armenian?
WITNESS — Yes.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Have you been in Berlin since 1914?
WITNESS — Yes.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Were you an eyewitness to the massacres?
WITNESS — No, I was not there when they took place.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Even the earlier massacres?
WITNESS — No.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — How about your parents?
WITNESS — My father is in Constantinople and my mother has already passed away from natural causes. But my relatives and friends were all killed in Garin, in my homeland.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Have you had frequent conversations with the defendant?
WITNESS — Yes.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Have you spoken about past events, about the massacres?
WITNESS — No, we never spoke about that. Neither my wife nor I cared to discuss the subject.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Is it very disturbing to you to discuss this horrible topic?
WITNESS — Yes.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Is that the reason you did not discuss it?
WITNESS — Yes.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did you know that Talaat was in Berlin?
WITNESS — Yes, just as the others did.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — When did you find out about it?
WITNESS — In 1919, after the war.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did you tell the defendant that Talaat was here?
WITNESS — No, the subject never came up.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — What can you tell us about the defendants health?
WITNESS — He came and told us that he was not well, he was sick. He wanted to be examined by a physician.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did he see a physician?
WITNESS — Yes, he went with a friend.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did he go to Professor Cassirer?
WITNESS — Yes.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did you ever see him when he was suffering epileptic fits?
WITNESS — No, but the defendant told us that he was very sick. A couple of times my wife prepared meals for him and on occasion he took medication while visiting us.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Then was he under the care of a physician?
WITNESS — Yes.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Is there anything about the way the defendant looked that caught your attention?
WITNESS — No, I cannot say there was.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Was he happy and carefree or rather sad and dejected?
WITNESS — Sometimes he was happy and sometimes he was sad. But overall he was more often sad than happy.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did he ever tell you about his dancing lessons?
WITNESS — Whenever he came to visit us, he was usually with Mr. Eftian, who was also taking dancing lessons.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Had you ever been with the defendant other than at your home?
WITNESS — No, only at my home.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — How large is the Armenian community in Berlin?
WITNESS — I do not know.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Does it comprise a hundred persons?
WITNESS — Almost.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Do you have social gatherings? Do you help each other out?
WITNESS — Yes, certainly we help each other.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Then you know most of the people in the Armenian community.
WITNESS — I know many, but not the majority.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Has the defendant ever told you that he saw Talaat in the street?
WITNESS — No, he never told me that.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — During the period you saw the defendant, did you notice a change in him?
WITNESS — No, I did not notice anything.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did he tell you why he moved to Hardenbergstrasse?
WITNESS — No.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did you ask him?
WITNESS — Yes, he said he did not like his old quarters. He was sick and needed a better room.
PRESIDING JUSTICE (to the attorneys) — Are there any questions still to be directed to this witness?
(No further questions)
Witness Mrs. Christine Terzibashian (wife of the preceding witness, 26 years old) takes the oath. Not related to the defendant by blood or marriage. Interrogation with the help of an Interpreter.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Do you have any information pertaining to the incident?
WITNESS — No.
VON GORDON — This witness has information pertaining to the Armenian massacres. Questions should be asked as to whether she was in her homeland during the war and where she was living.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Where are you from.
WITNESS — Garin, Eastern Anatolia.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Is that where you were born?
WITNESS — Yes.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Were there deportations of Armenians from there?
WITNESS — In July 1915 the population was gathered together and we were told that it was necessary to leave the city.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Were notices posted in the city informing the Armenians that they had to emigrate?
WITNESS — The police officers and city officials first informed the well-to-do Armenians. They were told that it was necessary to evacuate the city as it was in direct line of military operations. The well-to-do Armenians were informed eight days before the evacuation. The rest heard about it an hour before it happened. We soon found out that this was a lie and that the Armenians were the only ones who were being evacuated.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Were all the Armenians of the city evacuated one time?
WITNESS — At four separate times.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Were there four groups?
WITNESS — Yes, four groups were evacuated within eight days.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Were those who were left behind aware of what had happened to the others?
WITNESS — No.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Were the groups told where they were going?
WITNESS — We were told we were going toward Erzinga.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — In which group were you?
WITNESS — In the second.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Would you tell us in your own words how many persons were evacuated? How did it happen? How far did you advance? What happened?
WITNESS — All together there were 500 families. My immediate family consisted of twenty-one persons, only three of whom survived.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — How large was the entire group?
WITNESS — 500 families.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — How did your relatives meet their death?
WITNESS — We put as many of our possessions as possible in three ox carts we had rented. We took food and money with us as we thought we were going to Erzinga. There were my father and mother; my three brothers, the oldest of whom being 30 years old; three boys, the youngest one being six months old; one of my married sisters with her husband and six children, the oldest of whom was 22 years old. I saw with my own eyes how they all died. Only three of them managed to escape death. I swear to you that the orders to deport the Armenians came from Constantinople.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — In what way?
WITNESS — As Soon as we left the city limits and were in front of the gates to the Garin fortress, the gendarmes came and looked through all our belongings for arms. They took knives and umbrellas and other things. We marched on to the next city, Papert. When we were at the city limits, we were forced to march over corpses of people who had recently been killed. My legs were covered with the blood of the corpses I stepped on.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Were these the bodies of the people who had left Garin in the first group?
WITNESS — No, they were the inhabitants of Papert. We then arrived in Erzinga. They had promised to give us shelter, but they did not allow us to stop or to drink water. All the oxen and cows we had with us were taken away and driven up into the mountains.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — How did the massacre in which your relatives were killed take place?
WITNESS — They separated about 500 of the boys in their teens. One of them was my brother - But he slipped away from the group and came to us. We dressed him up as a girl so he could stay with us. The other youths were massacred.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — What happened to those who were separated?
WITNESS — After they tied them all together, they pushed them into the river.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — How do you know that?
WITNESS — I saw it with my own eyes.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — You saw them being pushed into the river?
WITNESS — Yes, they were pushed in and the current was so strong that they all drowned or were swept along by it.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Those who were left, what did they do?
WITNESS — We all shouted and cried. We did not know what to do. But they would not even allow us to cry. They pushed us all forward sticking bayonets in our backs.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Who?
WITNESS — Thirty gendarmes and a detachment of soldiers.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did they strike you now and then?
WITNESS — Yes.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — What happened to the other members of your family?
WITNESS — We carried whatever we could with us until we came to Malatia. There they took us up a mountain and separated the men from the women. They took the men a distance of ten meters from the women, so that we could see with our own eyes what was happening to them.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — What happened next?
WITNESS — They were killed with axes and thrown in the river.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Were the men and the women really killed in this manner?
WITNESS — Only the men were killed this way. When it grew somewhat dark, the gendarmes came and selected the most beautiful women and girls and kept them for themselves. A gendarme came and wanted me as his woman. Those who did not obey were pierced with bayonets and had their legs torn apart. They even crushed the pelvic bones of pregnant women, took out the fetuses and threw them away.
(Major commotion in the courtroom)
WITNESS — I swear to you this is true.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — How did you escape?
WITNESS — They split open my brothers head. My mother dropped dead upon seeing this. A Turk came toward me and wanted to take me as his woman; because I would not consent, he took my son and killed him.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — How did you escape?
WITNESS — I noticed smoke in the distance. I walked toward it and there I found my brother and his pregnant wife who was having labor pains. They told us we had to leave that night. My brother and I were forced to leave his wife there because she was pregnant.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — How many of you were left when you reached Samsek?
WITNESS — Approximately six hundred people.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — And from your family?
WITNESS — My father, two brothers, and I.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Then you also arrived at Samsek?
WITNESS — Yes. There my father became ill. An order was issued forbidding sick people from being taken along. Rather, they were to be thrown in the river. They came and took my father from the tent. But later my brother brought him back. That very night he died.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — What happened to your two brothers?
WITNESS — They are alive.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Is all this really true? You are not imagining it?
WITNESS — What I have said is the truth. In reality, it was much more horrible than it is possible for me to relate.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did you remain in Samsek?
WITNESS — I could not stay in Samsek. We had to go to Soorooch. They took us to a mountain and took whatever else that was left in our possession.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — At the time, who was thought to be the person responsible for this terror?
WITNESS — Talaat Pasha was the one who gave the orders and the soldiers forced us to kneel and cry out Long live the Pasha, because the Pasha had permitted us to live.
NIEMEYER — From the commotion it is evident that the witness statements sound incredible. But officially we have before us thousands of similar reports. However, so that no one will have the slightest doubt as to the veracity of the witness testimony, I would request that the two expert witnesses, Professor Dr. Lepsius and His Excellency Liman von Sanders be interrogated concerning the organization of the Turkish gendarmes and soldiers at that time.
VON GORDON — I knew of the massacres before this but not in such detail. In view of the striking testimony, I think we can dispense with calling any other witnesses to testify about the massacres. However, before we all listen to the two expert witnesses, I would request that a remarkable personality, Bishop Balakian, who has come from Manchester to Berlin, be allowed to testify later on. He not only saw and lived through the horrors of the massacres, but he can also tell us why the Armenians look upon Talaat Pasha as the person responsible for them. Whether he actually is guilty is another matter.
DISTRICT ATTORNEY — I also feel it would be appropriate to listen to the two expert witnesses on the general relationships that existed between the Turkish police and the guards.
PRESIDING JUSTICE (to the interpreter) — Would you tell the defendant that this witness testified in detail about the massacres.
DEFENDANT — I understood what she said.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — That is natural.
Expert Witness Professor Dr. Johannes Lepsius (author, 62 years old, Protestant) takes the oath.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — You know what this case is all about. I would appreciate it if you did not go too far back, but rather concentrated on the following: Were barbaric acts committed during the Armenian massacres of 1915 to the extent that we have been told? From research you have done and from the personal experiences you have had is the testimony of the witnesses and the defendant credible? What was the composition of the bodies of guards who were supposed to protect the Armenians during the deportation?
WITNESS — The plan for the deportation of the Armenians was decided upon by the Young Turk Committee. On this Committee were Talaat Pasha as the Minister of the Interior and Enver Pasha as the Minister of War. Talaat gave the orders and, with the help of the Young Turk Committee, implemented the plan. Already by April 1915 the deportation or general exile had been decided upon. It affected the entire Armenian population in Turkey with a few exceptions, about which I shall testify later. Just before the war, the Armenians in Turkey numbered 1,850,000. There is no such thing as an absolutely accurate demographic census in a country like Turkey; however, this figure corresponds to the statistics of the Armenian Patriarchate in Constantinople. The Armenian population lived in two geographic areas: European Turkey (Constantinople, Adrianople, Rodosto) and Asiatic Turkey (Anatolia, Cilicia, Northern Assyria, Mesopotamia). The majority of the Armenians lived in Eastern Anatolia on the Armenian plateau, in six vilayets, which once comprised their country, Armenia. These six vilayets are: Garin, Van, Paghesh, Diyarbekir, Sepasdia, and Kharpert [Erzerum, Van, Bitlis, Diyarbekir, Sivas, Kharput or Mamuret-ul-Aziz]. A large fragment of Armenians lived in Western Anatolia, opposite Constantinople on the southern edge of the Sea of Marmara, and in Southern Anatolia, in Cilicia, all along the Taurus Plateau up to the Gulf of Alexandretta, which is the northern border of Assyrian territories. A portion of these territories belong to the Armenians. It is their country, called Armenia.
By order of the highest officials of the Turkish government, the total Armenian population of the areas I have just described was deported to the northern and eastern edges of the Mesopotamian desert: Deir-ez-Zor, Zor, Rakka, Meskene, Ras-ul-Ain, and as far as Mosul. Approximately 1,400,000 Armenians were deported. What is the significance of this deportation?
In a document signed by Talaat Pasha we find the following statement: "The destination of the deportation is annihilation." These orders were carried out to the letter.
Pursuant to this order, of all the Armenians who were deported from Eastern Anatolia southward, only ten percent reached their destination; the remaining ninety percent were killed, except for women and girls who were sold by the gendarmes or were abducted by the Kurds or died of exhaustion and hunger.
Of those Armenians who were driven to the edge of the desert from Western Anatolia, Cilicia, and northern Assyria, a sizable number, reaching into the hundreds of thousands, was assembled into camps. These groups were systematically starved and periodically massacred.
When more groups of Armenians were brought to the stations and there was no room to keep them, they were taken in groups into the desert and slaughtered. The Turks indicated that they learned this system from the British, who proceeded in a similar way with the Boers of South Africa. They would segregate all the Boers in various locations and keep them apart from the rest of the population.
The official government explanation for the deportation was that these were precautionary measures. However, authoritative individuals blatantly declared that their purpose was to annihilate the whole Armenian population.
What I have just said is supported by the official documents of the German Foreign Office, as well as the documents of the German Embassy in Constantinople and documents of German Consuls. I have published all of this in a book.
You have heard two persons, Tehlirian and Mrs. Terzibashian, testify as to what they suffered and saw during the deportations. There are over a hundred published articles by Armenians who, like the defendant, were eyewitnesses to the massacres. They describe in graphic detail their individual experiences. Most of these articles are in German. Others were published in Great Britain and the United States. The accounts contained in these articles are not much different from what you have heard from Tehlirian and Mrs. Terzibashian. There is no question as to their authenticity. One would have to ask the following question: How is it possible to kill millions of people in such a short time?
This was possible in the most savage of conditions, as was brought out during the proceedings of the Military Tribunal set up in Constantinople to try Talaat and his comrades and associates. The Court consisted of a Division Commander, as its president, three generals, prominent during the war, and a captain. Of the five charges brought against the Young Turks, the first dealt with the Armenian massacres. On July 6, 1919, the Military Tribunal pronounced a guilty verdict, sentencing to death the leading perpetrators of the genocide — Talaat, Enver, Jemal and Dr. Nazim.
The responsibility of carrying out the orders for the massacres was left to the Valis [governors-general of the provinces], Mutasarrifs (governor of the provinces], and Kaymakams [governors of the districts]. Those officials who refused to carry out the orders were immediately relieved of their duties. For example, Jelal Pasha, who was the Governor of vilayet of Aleppo, refused to carry out the orders for deportation. He was relieved by direct orders of Talaat and sent westward to Konya. He behaved in the same manner there. He refused to obey the orders and in fact helped the Armenians, protecting those who remained and the deportees as well. He was again relieved of his duties, but this time he was not given another government position. He was one of the most widely known and fair Valis Turkey had. Another governor, Rashid Bey of the vilayet of Diyarbekir, executed two subprefects who refused to carry out the orders. These orders not only affected government officials, but Turkish citizens as well. The Commander of the Third Division issued an order that any Turk found assisting an Armenian would be shot in front of his house, and the house burned to the ground. Any government officials found helping Armenians would be relieved of their posts and tried before a military tribunal for their crimes.
About 1,400,000 people of the original 1,850,000 Armenians in Turkey took part in the forced march to the deserts of Deir-ez-Zor. This leaves 450,000 persons — of these, 200,000 were not affected by the deportation or the massacres, principally because they were from the larger cities of Constantinople, Smyrna, and Aleppo. A leading figure responsible for saving the Armenians of Aleppo was the German Consul Roessler, the very same person whom the Entente press castigated as the organizer of the massacres.
General Liman von Sanders, as he will testify, intervened on behalf of the Armenians and saved them in Smyrna. So did Marshal von der Goltz.
When Marshal von der Goltz arrived in Baghdad and found out that Armenians in Baghdad had been deported to Mosul and from there, together with the Armenians of Mosul, were to be marched to Euphrates, that is, to certain death, he asked the Vali of Mosul to forbid the deportation. Marshal von der Goltz submitted his resignation upon finding out that the Vali had received new orders to carry out the deportation. Enver Pasha had to write to the Marshal requesting him to continue in his duties, promising that the Armenians would not be touch. In the letter written by Enver, we find the following statement: "Your responsibilities do not include interfering in the internal affairs of Turkey!"
In Constantinople, our diplomats prevented the deportation of Armenian people of that city. Permit me to digress a little. We read quite often that one of the reasons for the Armenian massacres was that the merchant class of Armenians had fleeced the Turks and thus the enraged Turkish population had risen spontaneously against the Armenians. First of all, there is sufficient proof to indicate that neither the 1895-1896 massacres nor the recent ones stemmed from spontaneous popular agitations. In both instances, it was the orders of the Turkish government that were being carried out.
Furthermore, whether in 1895-1896 or in 1915, it was this very same class of Armenian merchants living in Constantinople, Smyrna, and Aleppo that escaped the massacres, partly because they were able to pay ransom. On the other hand, the entire rural Armenian population of Eastern Anatolia, which comprised 80 percent of the total Armenian population as well as the tradesmen, who were mostly Armenians, were sent to the desert and annihilated.
The remainder of the Armenians in Turkey — 250,000 persons from the eastern vilayets — were saved by the advancing Russian army and found refuge in the Caucasus.
At that time the Russians had advanced to the western shores of Lake Van. When they turned back, they took the Armenians to the Caucasus with them. However, it could hardly be said that they did so out of love for the Armenians because, when the Russians later recaptured these same territories, they would not allow the Armenians to return to their homes.
Yanushgevich, head of Nikolai Nikolayevich's staff and the commander of the Caucasian front made an announcement that communities of Kurds and Cossaks would be established in the territories captured by the Russian army and from which the Armenian population had been evacuated, in order to set up a wide military zone against the Turks. Milukov, head of the Russian cadets, made an emotional speech, strongly rebuking the Russians for pursuing the very same objective as the Turks had, namely an Armenia without Armenians.
In any case, the advancing Russians saved 350,000 Armenians but did not allow them to return to their homes. Even now they live in a very small territory in the Caucasus. For years, they lived on the verge of starvation and suffered enormously.
One is naturally forced to ask oneself, historically speaking, how these events came to take place. I shall try briefly to answer this question.
The Armenian Question is not a self-generating plant but has its roots rather in European politics. The Armenian people are the victims of the conflicting political interests of the Russians and the British. The rivalry of these two countries started in the East with the Crimean War and the Conference of Berlin of 1878.
In the political chess-game being played by London and Petersburg, the Armenians were the pawns who were sometimes moved forward and sometimes sacrificed. Humanitarian reasons or protection of the Christian Minority were only pretexts employed to achieve political gains.
When, in 1895, Abdul Hamid, under pressure from Russia, France and Great Britain, signed the document granting reforms to the Armenians and other Christian minorities and at the same time responded by carrying out certain Armenian massacres, Lord Salisbury declared as far as Great Britain was concerned, the Armenian Question no longer existed.
Prince Lobanov informed the Sultan that he had no reason to worry because Russia did not take these reforms seriously. The Sultan got the message. The 1894 massacre of Sasun, as a result of which a thousand Armenians were killed, prompted Great Britain, France, and Russia to call for a plan of reforms. In 1895-1896 Abdul Hamid moved his force into Sasun again and massacred 100,000 Armenians. The 1915-1918 massacre, which was preceded by the 1913 reforms, brought the number of Armenian victims to over a million.
The steps of the ladder— 1894, 1895, and 1915—1,000, 100,000, and 1,000,000 — are like the marks on a thermometer which the world should look at with shame. In the world history of massacres, it is unlikely that there is any parallel to this series of massacres. In the interim, in 1909, there was the Cilician massacre which claimed some 25,000 Armenian victims.
In spite of Article 61 of the Treaty of Berlin, which the six great European Powers signed, in spite of the 1878 Treaty of Cyprus, whereby Britain assumed responsibility for overseeing implementation of reforms for the Christians and the Armenians, in spite of the signature of the Sultan on the Anglo-Franco-Russian plans guaranteeing reforms for the Armenians, not one of these Great Powers raised a finger to save the Armenians or at least try to punish the murderers.
To this date, the Armenians have been nothing more than a means to an end for the political aspirations of Great Britain, Russia, and France.
And it is because of these games, especially those played by Great Britain and Russia, that first the Sultan and then the Young Turks looked upon the Armenians as the most dangerous political tool the European countries could use as an excuse to interfere in Turkeys internal affairs.
Germany, as the publication of our official government documents will verify, since the Treaty of Berlin has pursued a benevolent and prudent policy with reference to the Armenian Question. And, in return, we have been castigated all over the world as the nation which has instigated all the atrocities of the Sultan and the Young Turk government.
Abdul Hamid concluded that "the Europeans aroused the Bulgarians and we lost Bulgaria. Now they are trying to arouse the Armenians so that they can take Eastern Anatolia from us. Thus, bit by bit, they will dismember us." This has resulted in the Armenian massacres and Hamid's maddening desire to persecute the Armenians.
The question of the Armenian reforms remained in the political plans of the Great Powers. In 1913 there was again talk for reform. While the Russian and German diplomats were earnestly negotiating, the British pulled out. Eventually the discussions led to reforms which the Sublime Porte agreed to, and which satisfied the Armenians. Two European Inspectors General were assigned to supervise the implementation of these reforms. However, the matter never reached that stage. The war broke out and the two reformers were recalled.
I was in Constantinople in 1913 and I could see that the Young Turks were enraged that the European Powers again kept talking about reforms for the Armenians. They were all the more disturbed when, thanks to the agreement between Germany and Russia, this issue was settled to the satisfaction of the Armenians. The Young Turks said: If you Armenians do not denounce these reforms, something will happen that will make Abdul Hamid's actions look like child's play. The leaders of both groups had become friends and helped each other out during the elections. During the first few months of the war, relations between them seemed amicable until the evening of April 24, 1915 when, to the complete surprise of everyone in Constantinople, 235 Armenian intellectuals were arrested, jailed, and then sent to Asia Minor. During the next few days, a couple hundred more were added. Altogether 600 people were involved. Of this group only 15 survived. Practically all of the Armenian intellectual leaders in Constantinople were wiped out in this manner. A member of Parliament, Vartkes, a close personal friend of Talaat, had still remained exempt. He went to Talaat and asked him what was happening. Talaat's answer was: "While we were weak, your people pushed for reforms and were a thorn in our side; now we are going to take advantage of our favorable situation and disperse your people so that it will take you 50 years before you talk again about reforms." Vartkes answered, appropriately enough, "Then it follows that the work of Abdul Hamid is to be continued?" Talaat answered, "Yes."
Their deeds surpassed their boasts. The evidence brought out during the trials held by the Turkish Court-martial in Constantinople, and corresponding to the report published in the official Turkish journal Takvim-i-vekayi, shows that the deportation was decided upon by the Young Turk Committee and that Talaat was the most influential member of the Committee. In fact, he was its very soul. He ordered the annihilation and did nothing to prevent it.
It is also possible to submit official written proof based on German and Turkish documents.
My purpose in testifying thus today is to show you that the diplomatic games of the European Powers first led Abdul Hamid and later the Young Turks to become suspicious of the Armenians and, furthermore, led them to conclude that the only solution was the annihilation of the Armenians.
This uprooting and annihilation of the Armenians took a thousand and one forms. You have already heard a few examples from eyewitnesses.
WERTHAUER — You stated that the diplomatic games of the Russians and the British contributed to the annihilation of the Armenians. Why?
WITNESS — Because these diplomatic maneuvers created a fear among the Turks that the Great Powers were striving for an independent Armenia and that this would be a threat to the existence of Asiatic Turkey.
WERTHAUER — It used to be said previously that the reason for the massacres was the fact that the Armenians were Christians whereas the Turks were Mohammedans, and the hatred between these two peoples was centuries old.
WITNESS — The dream of a Pan-Islamic and Pan-Turanic state, in which there was to be no role for the Christians, originated with Enver Pasha and the Young Turks Committee.
WERTHAUER — If I understand you correctly, as in Pan-German or Pan-Russian, then similarly by the concept Pan-Turkic they meant the annihilation of all non-Turkish elements?
WITNESS — Yes.
NIEMEYER — Is not the case as follows? Nations once subjugated by the Turks rose up one by one and became liberated from Turkish hegemony, leaving the Armenians as the only Christian nation still under Turkish rule. And in order to prevent the Armenians from doing the same it was decided to annihilate them. Is this view accurate?
WITNESS — Yes, Count Metternich, who was the German Ambassador in Constantinople in 1918, wrote in a report dated July 30th as follows: The Armenian Question is finished. The gang of Young Turks is eagerly preparing itself for the moment when Greece will turn against Turkey so that the Greeks can be annihilated as well, just like the Armenians.
Witness His Excellency General Otto Liman von Sanders (66 years old, Protestant ) takes the oath.
WITNESS — In addition to Dr. Lepsius testimony, I too would like to offer a few comments from a military point of view.
In my opinion, we should divide into two categories the events which have taken place in Armenia, generally referred to as The Armenian Massacres. First, in my opinion, is the order of the Young Turks to deport the Armenians. We can hold the government fully responsible for the preparation of this deportation and partially responsible for all of the subsequent events. Second, we have the war and the fighting that took place in the Armenian territories. Initially, the Armenians defended themselves against the Turks, contrary to the Turkish orders to disarm, and, as has been proven beyond doubt, some joined the Russians and fought against Turkey. Naturally, it is understandable that the victors in such a war would be accused of massacring the vanquished.
I believe these two categories are distinguishable and have to be distinguished.
The government ordered the deportation of all Armenian inhabitants of the Armenian territories, or the Eastern Anatolian provinces, as a strategic military move.
I wish to stress the fact that all the captains and officers up to the rank of general in the Eastern Provinces were Turks. Some of you are aware of the fallacious rumors that have been circulated concerning the presence of German officers in these provinces. What I said is what these captains and civil officials have reported in Constantinople; the carrying out of the orders issued thereupon for deportation fell into the worst hands.
It is also essential to mention that, prior to the war, the Turkish police force was extremely efficient. It consisted of 85,000 troops and a specially selected brigade. Most of these people were drafted into the army and separated into various brigades and in their place an auxiliary police force was created. It certainly did not represent a select class. It consisted mostly of criminals or the perennially unemployed. Discipline among these people was understandably very lax. We should keep this in mind when we bear testimony relating to the atrocities committed against the Armenians. It was not the Turkish army or the Turkish police force that attacked the Armenians, but rather a temporary supplementary police force created because of the exigencies of the time. Furthermore, we should remember that the economic situation was so dismal that not only many Armenians, but thousands of Turkish soldiers as well died of the lack of food supplies, disease, and other consequences of poor organization in the Turkish government. In my division alone, after the battle of Galipoli, thousands died of malnutrition. I feel all of these points should be kept in mind.
We should also not overlook the fact that many Turks were fighting under the banner of a Holy War and thus felt that the more severely they acted with the Armenians, the Christians, the more benevolent their actions were. This is especially true of the subordinate officials. The Kurds, who have always been enemies of the Armenians, committed numerous atrocities against the Armenians as well.
As far as I know, the German government did whatever it could at the time, conditions permitting, to help the Armenians. However, we should also recognize that it was a difficult task for the German government. I know personally that our Ambassador, Count Metternich, continuously protested against the policies and measures taken against the Armenians.
I can say without hesitation, as Dr. Lepsius was good enough to stress, that there was not a single German officer involved in any of the actions taken against the Armenians, contrary to the many suspicions entertained with regard to us. The fact of the matter is that we intervened whenever and wherever we could.
I should mention that I personally never received any orders signed by Talaat. The orders I received were signed by Enver and they generally had little significance. These orders were generally incomprehensible or totally impracticable. For example, I once received an order to remove all Jews and Armenians from the German officers' staff. It goes without saying that the orders were never carried out, since we needed them as interpreters. Very often we received such nonsensical orders.
In February 1916, I had the opportunity to oppose the orders of the Governor of the vilayet of Adrianople to expel the Armenians and Jews from Adrianople. I got word about this from the Bavarian senior deputy, Witmar. I went there and looked into the matter. Our representative was, the Austrian Consul. My on-the-spot investigation verified the fact that the Governor had ordered the deportation. I went to Constantinople and, with the help of Consul Count Metternich and the Ambassador's Consul Palavichin, the orders were withdrawn.
On another occasion I went to Smyrna. The governor of the province had 600 Armenians taken out of bed and put in wagons to be deported. I went to see the governor and told him that if another hand was raised against the Armenians, I would order my soldiers to kill his police officers. Thereupon, the order was withdrawn. This is the truth. Dr. Lepsius mentions this incident in his book.
This is approximately what I know through personal experience. I would like to stress that I have never set foot in Armenia. I have never been close to Armenia and the Turkish government has never listened to my views nor have they asked for my views on any of the measures taken against the Armenians. On the contrary, everything was done clandestinely so that we would not have any knowledge of their internal political relationships.
Some of the most libelous reports of the world press have stated that German officers, and I think the same applies to all German officials, took part in the planned deportation of the Armenians. On the contrary, in accordance with our duty we intervened whenever we could to assist the Armenians. In my district, except for the examples cited above, the Armenians were few and scattered far and wide.
I cannot say what the role of Talaat was as concerns the issuing of orders. As far as I know the principal order pertaining to the deportation of the Armenians was given on May 20, 1915. In any event it was the result of a decision of the Young Turk committee and it had the unanimous approval of the ministers. The implementation of the orders was left to the Valis, the lower echelon officials, and especially the horrible police force.
In any event, I consider it my duty to state that, in the five years I was in Turkey, I never saw an order signed by Talaat against the Armenians and neither can I testify whether or not such an order was ever issued.
Witness Bishop Krikoris Balakian (Vicar from the Armenian Apostolic Prelacy in Manchester, England, who has come to Berlin for the trial) takes the oath.
The witness speaks halting German. No interpreter is needed.
WITNESS — I have no information either pertaining to the incident in question or concerning the defendant. I have never met him.
I was in Berlin when the war broke out and in September 1914 I left to return to Constantinople. Some six to seven months later, on April 21, 1915, I was arrested and deported along with another 280 Armenian intellectuals.
We were on a train for 36 hours until we arrived at the outskirts of Enguri. There, 90 from our group were deported to Ayas; the remaining 190 were taken in carts to Changere, a days trip from Enguri. From there in small groups of 5, 10, 15, 25, persons were taken back to Enguri and killed. Out of the 190 people, only 16 escaped death.
In Changere, there were forty Armenian families consisting of 250 persons who spoke Turkish only. They were businessmen quite naive when it came to politics. These 250 persons and the 16 intellectuals were to be exiled to Deir-ez-Zor, according to the telegraphic orders of the Minister of the Interior.
The Governor of Kastamouni, Reshad Pasha, refused to obey the orders of the Minister of the Interior. He was immediately replaced. His lieutenant was Ionus Bey, Secretary of the Ittihad Committee. He wanted to carry out the orders to deport us. We were able to buy him off by paying him 800 Turkish gold pieces. We were thus able to stay there until February 1916. A new director was sent to Kastamouni to replace Reshad Pasha. He was formerly the Vali of Enguri, where, as we heard at the time, he was responsible for the deaths of 82,000 Armenian men, women, and children. The new Vali followed Minister of Interior Talaat Pashas orders to the letter and had us exiled to Deir-ez-Zor, even though the Armenians were quite peaceful and could not speak their mother tongue; they just spoke Turkish.
We were informed that for political reasons the government wanted to get all the Armenians out of Asia Minor. First they took 48 men. The women were also to be driven along with them. They asked us if we wanted to have the women and children with us. I advised against it. We later learned that all the women and children were killed.
During the forced march to Deir-ez-Zor, we went through villages and cities where countless Armenians gave up their lives: Choroum, Boghazliyan, Kayseri, Tomarza, Hajin, Sis, Kars, Bozar, Osmaniye, Hassanbeyli, and Islahiye.
For example, 43,000 Armenian men, women, and children were massacred between Yozghat and Boghazliyan. We heard constant rumors that we were to be executed as well, even though the official word used was "displacement". In reality, displacement was a policy of extermination. Our group had money, altogether some 15,000-16,000 gold pieces and we believed that this money would be our salvation.
"Bakshish" [tip or bribe] is a very strong inducement in Asia Minor. We hoped that we could do with money what we could not do by any other means. We were not wrong. The reason I am still alive is because of bakshish.
It goes without saying that they did not take care of us. We were hungry and, whenever we came to a river, they would not allow us to quench our thirst. We stayed two days without any food whatsoever.
They would not allow us to buy any food. They would never allow us to sleep, and yet we were content. We thought that we would be very fortunate if they did not kill us.
When we came to the bloodiest city, Yozghat, we saw a couple hundred skulls of women and young girls in a gorge located four hours distance from town. With us was a police captain, Shukri, who had led us (we were 48 men and 16 police officers on horseback). I asked him whether it was true that only men were being killed and that women and children were being spared.
If we only killed the men, he replied, and not the women and children, then, 50 years from now, we would have a couple million Armenians. So we also have to kilt the women and children; thus we will no longer have an external or an internal problem. (Please forgive me, I have not spoken any German for four or five years now. For this reason, I cannot speak it fluently. Since 1901, I have been an Armenian clergyman. I know the conditions of my people in Armenia and I am well acquainted with Turkish politics.) The captain went on to explain that all the Armenian women and children had been killed, except for the ones in the cities. That had been prohibited.
In 1895-1896, Sultan Abdul Hamid had ordered the Armenians in the cities to be killed. The European nations, the entire civilized world had become aware of this and began to object. The plan now was not to allow anyone to survive; thus, there would be no witnesses to appear in a courtroom. But, thank God, there are still a few survivors.
The captain explained to us calmly and in detail that 14,000 men had been taken from Yozghat and the surrounding villages and been killed, and their bodies had been put into wells. The surviving members of their families were told that the men were sent to Aleppo, Syria, that they were well and that the government had been asked to give orders for the members of their families to come and join them in Aleppo. These families would find living quarters ready for them there. Furthermore, the government had decreed that anything that was moveable could be taken in carts with them to Syria.
On the basis of this order, families started packing everything they had of value, including carpets, silverware, gold, jewelry, and all other moveable possessions. They loaded these into their carts and set out for Syria in a caravan. On the road from Yozghat to Boghazliyan the captain told me that, as a commander of the gendarmes, he personally gave the orders for 40,000 Armenians to be killed. He went on to say, Now the women were thinking that their husbands were alive and made preparations to join them. There were approximately 840 carts; of these, 380 were oxcarts and the rest horse drawn. Many women and children were forced to go on foot. There were some 6,400 women and children being deported to Aleppo.
I asked the captain why such things had been done. He explained that if the women and children were exterminated in the cities, then we would never be able to find out where they had hidden their gold and other valuable possessions. That is why we allowed them to pack all their valuables. Once they had reached a valley some four hours outside of town, the 25-30 Turkish women who were with the caravan began to search each Armenian woman and child and take their jewelry and money. Since there were 6,400 women and children, it took the Turkish women four days before they were through searching. Once the searching was over, it was announced that a new directive had been received from the government to the effect that the women would now be allowed to return to Yozghat, their home.
On the way back — an hours distance — there was a vast plain. The carts and coachmen had already been sent back. The women asked why. They were told that a new directive had come allowing them to return and that they did not need any carts, since it was only a four hour trip to Yozghat.
The captain told me this personally. He did not continue talking thus; as in this case, I always would ask him questions to get answers from him. I believed I might benefit from what I heard.
Now when the women wished to return to Yozghat, many gendarmes were sent to the provincial villages and the villagers were called upon to engage in the "holy war" (Jihad). Some 12,000 to 13,000 villagers came, armed with axes and other iron implements. They were allowed to kill them all and take with them only the prettiest girls.
VON GORDON (interrupting) — We have heard much testimony already, I would like you to get to the essential points.
WITNESS — Please ask me questions.
VON GORDON — When you were in Changere, did you go to the Vali with one of your professors and did you request him to do something on your behalf? Did he not show you a telegram that he had received from Talaat Pasha asking him a certain question?
WITNESS — Let me continue for a couple of minutes, then I shall answer your question. The indiscriminate killing of all the Armenians having taken place, I asked the captain if he had any regrets. I asked him whether or not he felt responsible to answer to God, to mankind, and to what we call civilization.
The captain replied that he felt no responsibility whatsoever. He was only obeying orders given to him from Constantinople. He indicated that he was only a captain and had been ordered to kill everyone because a "Holy War" had been declared.
The captain continued by saying that when a soldier kills someone in wartime, he is not responsible for his actions. He said that he acted accordingly. When the massacre was over with, he told me he said a prayer and absolved his soul.
I said fine, but the fighting in such a case is against the men and that a holy war is not to be declared against innocent women and children.
(In answer to von Gordon's question)
One day, when I was with Mr. Diran Kelekian, the editor of the Turkish newspaper Sabah and a professor at the Turkish University in Constantinople, he asked me, "Would you like to go with me and visit the Vice-governor, Assaf Bey?" I told him that it would be better if we kept under cover. He told me to have no fear as the Bey was a former student of his who respected him. He had discussed the Armenian Question with the Bey many times.
We then went to visit Assaf Bey, who was the former Vice-governor of Osmaniye in Cilicia. He welcomed us very politely. We asked him what we could do to get to Constantinople. He said, "My dear professor, whatever you want to do, do it. Do it quickly; otherwise it will be too late."
We naturally asked him why it would be too late. We told him we had not heard that the massacres had already begun in Asia Minor and we did not know what was happening two hours away. Assaf Bey replied by saying that he could not say anything to others, but he said, "You are my teacher (Mr. Kelekian) and you (turning to me) are a clergyman, you can keep the secret. I trust you!" He showed us a telegram which I read. I cannot recall the exact words, nor can I testify whether it was authentic or not. But I have no reason to doubt the authenticity of a telegram shown to me by the Vice-governor. The telegram read: "Telegram us directly and immediately the exact figures of how many Armenians have been killed and how many are still alive. Minister of Interior Talaat."
At first, I was unable to comprehend the meaning of the telegram as I could not imagine that a whole nation would be massacred. No such thing had happened before in history. Mr. Kelekian asked the Bey the meaning of the telegram. He replied, "You are supposed to be intelligent. You are an editor-in-chief. The telegram means: Why are you waiting? Kill them all."
Mr. Kelekian broke down and began to cry. He said, "I have young children who are not old enough to take care of themselves. There is nothing else for us to do except for you (referring to me) to come with me to church and give me my last rites."
Assaf Bey told us to do our best to be in Constantinople in two weeks time. He told us he would remain in his present position for another fifteen days and then he would resign. He said he was in Osmaniye in 1909 and had been accused of partaking in the 1909 massacres of the Armenians in Adana and managed to save his skin only after a lot of difficulty. He said he did not want to have anything further to do with any massacres. He said that one day all the top leaders would leave Turkey and people like him would be held responsible for these massacres and perhaps be hanged.
JUROR — What signature was on the telegram?
WITNESS — The telegram was signed "Talaat". I saw it with my own eyes.
VON GORDON — Who helped you escape? Was it the Russians, British, Turks, or French? Who?
WITNESS — That is a disastrous story and the events that I endured for five years would take me weeks or even months to relate to you.
VON GORDON — We would appreciate it if you would summarize those events for us.
WITNESS — I fled from Islahiye to Ayran-Bagche. When I arrived at the Amanos mountain chain, I came across a group of German architects and engineers who were working on a tunnel. They were very polite toward me especially when they discovered that I had done my studies in Germany and spoke German. They told me that I had to shave my beard, remove my frock and dress as a European. I stayed with them for four months. There were 8,000 Armenians working under the protection of these German engineers. But when the orders came to deport these Armenians as well, they were killed between Bagche and Marash. I fled again, this time to the Taurus mountains, where other German engineers were working on a tunnel, and I found refuge among them. The Chief Engineer, Leutenegger, was very good to me. However, as soon as the Turks discovered my identity, I fled to Adana. In Adana I found other Germans and again I remained with them for five months. I was in the main office under the protection of Chief Architect Winkler. I was given a German uniform and I passed as a German soldier.
I would like to express my deep gratitude and heartfelt thanks, here, to those German engineers who granted me aid and comfort in my time of need.
When the Entente soldiers took Damascus and were marching toward Aleppo, the Turks in Adana were telling the Armenians that they did not want to let us live so that we would not, along with the Entente powers, laugh at them and cause them harm. They wished to massacre a few thousand Armenians, who were still living in a Turkish warehouse in Adana, in the mountainous areas of Sis and Hajin.
Summoning all my energy I tried to save myself from these barbaric acts and get to Germany.
With my German uniform, I joined other German soldiers and officers and went with them by train to Constantinople. I stayed in hiding in Constantinople until the Armistice was signed in 1918. In November 1918 I left Turkey and came to Paris to try to relate to the world the atrocities that were committed against the Armenians.
VON GORDON — His Excellency General Liman von Sanders left some doubt in our minds. He testified that Talaat Pasha was not the person responsible for these acts, rather the responsibility fell on those groups of irregulars who were in charge of carrying out the deportation. This point of view, as I understand it, is contrary to the views of the Armenians and Dr. Lepsius. I would like to ask the witness the following question: Is there any question in the mind of the Armenians that Talaat was personally responsible for the massacres?
WITNESS — Not only is there no doubt of that in the minds of the Armenians, but it is also the truth. I am a member of the Synod of the Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople. As such, I had the opportunity, over a long period of time, to get to know the workings of the Turkish government. Of course, I knew Talaat personally. He had overwhelming influence. He did everything with the knowledge of the government. Whenever we, as representatives of the Armenian Patriarchate, had to request something from him, Talaat would tell us: "You do not have to go to the other ministers, you may come directly to me. You do not have to put anything in writing. You just come and tell me about it and I shall take care of it." He acted as if all of the responsibility fell on him alone and he did not have to give an accounting to anyone.
NIEMEYER — Are you aware that Talaat said, "I have done more in one day than Abdul Hamid did in 30 years to resolve the Armenian Question." I understand this statement is well known among the Armenians.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Are you familiar with this quotation?
WITNESS — I did not understand the question.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — (repeats it)
WITNESS — What Talaat did had never happened, not only in the past 30 years but in the past 500. In 1915, I was in Changere and, in the month of September, the whole of Anatolia was emptied of Armenians who were then massacred. A Turkish colonel came from Erzerum, the Turkish-Russian front, and stopped in Changere on his way to Constantinople. He told me: "We did what our Sultan was unable to do. We completely wiped out a historic nation in two months!"
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Did this notion pretty much prevail among the Turks and the Armenians as well?
WITNESS — Yes.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Is it then true that at the hands of Talaat the Armenians suffered greater losses in fifteen months than in all previous years combined?
WITNESS — Yes. But I personally never heard Talaat make the statement that was mentioned a few moments ago.
VON GORDON (to His Excellency Liman von Sanders) — Your Excellency, you implied in your remarks that the responsibility far the massacres should be with the lower echelon officials.
WITNESS — I said the lower echelon officials were responsible for the extreme horrors of the massacres, not for the deportation orders.
VON GORDON — In refutation of this point, I would like to present five telegrams from the Vice-governor of Aleppo, Syria.
(von Gordon wishes to put said telegrams on the court table)
VON GORDON — I would like to read two of these telegrams as proof of this point. Professor Lepsius has examined these telegrams.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — You would be anticipating the evidence if you were now to read these telegrams.
VON GORDON — At least I would like to mention the contents of these telegrams. The telegrams prove that Talaat personally gave the orders to massacre alt the Armenians including women and children. Originally the order was given to spare only those children who were too young to remember what had happened to their parents. However, in March 1916 this order was rescinded as it was felt that these children could, in the future, turn out to be a dangerous element in the community.
The witness Andonian can testify to the authenticity of these telegrams. He obtained them directly from the office of the Vice-governor of Aleppo after the British occupation. Then he placed them at the disposal of the Armenian Delegation.
I personally feel it is important, essential in fact, that the Jurors accept the defendants belief that Talaat was the responsible party and the author of the Armenian Genocide. If the Jurors are willing to accept this, then I am willing to waive the reading of these telegrams.
DISTRICT ATTORNEY — I feel that the motion should be denied. Even though great latitude was granted to discuss this subject, nevertheless, it is not the purpose of this body, nor is it within its competence, to come to a historic decision pertaining to the guilt or innocence of Talaat and the extent of his involvement in the massacre of the Armenians. The essential point is that the defendant believed that Talaat was the responsible party and thus the motive becomes fully clear.
NIEMEYER — It should also be added that Talaat had the highest position in the Turkish government. He was a representative of the government, the Grand Vizir. He was responsible for all of the acts taken by the government. Any other point of view is out of the question.
VON GORDON — In view of the position taken by the District Attorney and the effect it has had on the jurors, I would like to cancel my motion to have these telegrams read into the record.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — I believe that takes care of this point.
JUROR EWALD — I would like to ask a question of witness Balakian. You said you went to see the Vali. Was he a governor or a mayor? Did you see the signature of Talaat on the telegram?
WITNESS — Yes, I saw it with my own eyes.
VON GORDON — The Vali has the position of Chief Authority; he is the top official in the provincial government. He is the Governor-general.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — I would like to ask again if there are any other witnesses to be interrogated?
WERTHAUER — I would like to hear the expert witnesses today.
DR. STÖRMER — I would be very grateful if I could testify today. I assure you I will be brief.
NIEMEYER — I would like to request that we hear all the medical testimony today.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — I would like to ask the defendant if he wishes us to examine any other witnesses.
DEFENDANT — I would like author Aram Andonian to testify.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — The jurors believe that at the time of the incident you were convinced that Talaat Pasha was the author of the massacres.
(Hereupon, the defendant announces that he agrees that the interrogation of other witnesses can be dispensed with.)
Expert Witness Dr. Robert Störmer (Privy medical counselor to the Court, 51 years old, Protestant, Berlin) takes the oath.
(A special appeal is made to the expert witnesses, reminding them of the oath.)
WITNESS — Gentlemen, at the request of the District Attorneys office and with the help of the interpreter present today in Court, I was able to talk to the defendant about his life as welt as give him an extensive physical examination. I analyzed alt of the pertinent factors required to come to a final conclusion, which I am ready to communicate to you.
I concluded that the defendant is an epileptic and that this has had a decided effect on the act he has committed.
I would like to summarize for you what I have learned from the defendant about his life. He was born in Erzinga, the son of a merchant. There is nothing in his childhood of any interest from a medical point of view. He had never been seriously ill until 1915, when he witnessed the massacres. He told me, in a very emotional state, the circumstances under which his parents, brothers and sisters became victims. Shuddering with horror, he recalled the moment when a Turk struck his brother on the head with such force that it was split in two.
The defendant also received injuries to his head, left arm and knee. The shocking effect of all these killings, plus his wounds and sufferings, caused him to suffer fainting spells. He remained for three days under corpses; he lost consciousness, coming to only because of the horrible stench arising from the corpses — a stench which has remained ingrained in his mind forever. He tells me that any time he reads anything horrifying or whenever he recalls the massacres, the stench from the corpses penetrates his olfactories and he cannot seem to overcome it.
Subsequent to the massacres, he spent some time wandering until he found refuge among some mountainous Kurds. He insists he had his first epileptic fit in 1916 but that he cannot be any more specific about it. In 1917 he returned to Erzinga and found the city deserted and his home in ruins. He then suffered his second epileptic seizure. I asked him to describe this seizure to me in detail. He suddenly felt weak and lost consciousness. He lay on the ground helpless and, when he regained his consciousness and strength, he felt thirsty and wanted to sleep. He then told me that he dug for the money left in the house until he found the gold pieces his parents had hidden. He used this money to travel to Europe, but before that, in 1918, he went to Tiflis and was hospitalized, suffering from intestinal disorders which were probably due to typhoid fever. I cannot state with any certainty that is was typhoid as the defendant was unable to describe his illness to me in detail so that I could come to a definite conclusion. He then went to Europe and in December 1920 moved from Paris to Geneva and from there to Berlin. First he lived at 51 Augsburgerstrasse with Mrs. Stellbaum and then, in early 1921, he moved to 37 Hardenbergstrasse. I visited his apartment to determine for myself whether or not he could check on the movements of Talaat. The apartment was on the ground floor and, from there, one could keep an eye on the balcony of the apartment in which Talaat resided.
I asked the defendant detailed questions pertaining to his seizures and the frequency of the attacks. He told me that he had seizures very irregularly. For months he would not have any and then he would feel very weak and dizzy. In Paris, over a period of ten months, he had four attacks but each time, realizing his physical condition, he would come to his senses so that he did not get hit by a car or meet with any other accident. Subsequent to feeling weak, he always had the same sensation and smelled the stench of corpses. Others have told him that his whole body trembled during these seizures. First he senses the stench; then his body starts trembling and he loses consciousness. The third phase occurs upon awakening: he feels pain in his legs and arms. He feels exhausted. In this condition he feels very thirsty and then he falls into a deep sleep.
In Paris he had four such seizures. In Geneva, none. In Berlin, many, one of which occurred on Erusalemerstrasse. This attack took place near a subway station; a bank employee took him to his house and left him on the doorstep. The defendant then climbed the stairs alone and got to his room. His landlady, Mrs. Stellbaum, thought he was drunk and noticed a wound on his cheek, but then it became clear that he had not been drinking as there was no smell of alcohol. He immediately went to bed and felt like throwing up.
I felt it essential to detail his seizure because I base my conclusions on these details. I have diagnosed him as an epileptic. Even without that, his body is weak. His physical examination showed that he had liquid in his lungs and, even though our conversation was carried out in calm surroundings, one could observe a strong shaking and trembling of his body. Our conversation was very calm. There was no excitement either on his part or on mine. Including the interpreter, there were three of us in a small room and no one bothered us in any way.
His reflexes were normal except for those of his eyes focusing membrane. His urine analysis showed a significant excess of albumin.
All these findings have no effect on free will. But they do allow us to conclude that the defendant is a sick man physically. The interpreter did such an excellent job that I feel, even though we could not communicate directly, that I could understand his emotional state. Whenever the defendant spoke of the massacres, I had the impression that what he said came straight from the heart. I can unequivocally state that the defendant has suffered an extreme emotional shock and that whenever he became morose, as described by his two landladies, he turned the lights off, preferring darkness to light, and played his mandolin. All these reflect a turbulent emotional state.
It is necessary to take all these factors into consideration to reach a fair verdict with regard to the defendant. This does not constitute merely the memory of a horrible massacre and the death of his family; rather, the defendants behavior reflects justifiable compassion. His childhood, his faith in humanity, and his confidence in justice have been totally destroyed. It is my firm conviction that the defendant suffers from epilepsy and that this has complete domination over his feelings.
However, this epilepsy, which stems from emotional factors, is also characterized by a persistence rare in such cases. Steadfastness, balance of perception, the decision-making process, and the bringing of an idea to fruition are all tied in with this epilepsy.
People suffering from this same sickness, with very few exceptions, see to it that they carry out whatever they have set their minds to. This explains why once his mind was made up, the defendant pursued his enemy with few digressions and decided to implement his plan of action in the best possible way.
One episode can have a decided effect on ones thinking. The defendant has stated that his mother would appear over and over again in his dreams. On one occasion his mother took on a physical appearance before him and told him: What, you still want to call yourself my son? Talaat Pasha is in Berlin and you are doing nothing to kill him and avenge my death.
I certainly had to ask myself if this was not a delusion of the senses. But after a detailed cross-examination, I was able to verify that what the defendant experienced was not a delusion of the senses, but a living mental picture. He does actually see his mother in her physical form. He not only sees her in his dreams but even white he is awake. This happens quite often with people who are suffering from epilepsy.
So we see that this sickness has had an undeniable effect on the defendant. Nevertheless, if one were to say that he could not exercise his free will, then it goes without saying that there should be a direct correlation between his behavior and his sickness. I did not find this to be true.
But I accept as fact that his sickness has altered his entire personality and has brought forth a stubborn, persistent, irrepressible desire to see to the realization of his plans. However, at the time of the killing, he was exercising his free will since he was not subject to any fits at alt then.
I do not deny that on the day of the killing he was quite enraged and felt dejected; he had drunk brandy to induce courage. When be had finished the surveillance from his room, he grabbed his revolver and rushed out to the street. He described to me in detail that he was convinced the man was Talaat Pasha and that he shot him from the back because, otherwise, he would have drawn attention to the gun and botched the assassination. The defendant used extreme care to aim the revolver at the area between the hat and the top of the overcoat. This was the realization of a long-premeditated plan. Thus, considering the fact that the killing, which took place in the daytime, had no close relationship to an epileptic seizure and even though the horrible events he experienced in Armenia had an effect on his behavior, nevertheless, I can only come to the conclusion that he still had his free will.
PRESIDING JUSTICE (to the defendant) — Did those scenes appear to you in bodily form?
DEFENDANT — Yes, it seems to me that I saw the corpses in actual body form.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Do you still insist that you did not commit the killing deliberately at the time?
DEFENDANT — When I saw Talaat Pasha leave the house, I remembered what my mother had told me.
VON GORDON — Does the defendant deny that he committed the crime with deliberation?
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Yes. (To the interpreter) Would you please tell the defendant that Dr. Störmer feels that he was responsible for his acts.
(This is translated for the defendant)
VON GORDON — Did the defendant admit that he had had that much brandy?
WITNESS — No. It was his landlady, Mrs. Dittmann, who said so.
JUROR — Perhaps, due to his intoxicated condition, there was an interruption in his thinking; he may have relived the horrible experience he endured and thus suffered an epileptic attack.
WITNESS — Yes, I thought of that too. Certainly, when the occasion to commit the homicide presented itself, he was understandably under the influence of a deep inspiration. Nevertheless, in a psychiatric sense, the inspiration was not of a delusional nature.
WERTHAUER — Supposing he had suffered an epileptic seizure that very morning, would you still be of the same opinion?
WITNESS — I tried in every possible way to discover from the defendant if he had had such an attack. I asked him if he had had a sleepless night. He told me that he had perspired all night.
WERTHAUER — That is not at all what I was driving at. If it were possible to establish that the defendant had suffered an epileptic attack that night, in that case, would you still be of the opinion that the defendant would have been responsible for his actions?
WITNESS — If he had suffered an epileptic attack, certainly that would have had an effect on his free will; nevertheless, he would still have had a controlled free will.
JUROR — Is it not possible that the defendant might have suffered an epileptic attack and not been aware of it?
WITNESS — Yes, that is quite possible. We see the same thing happening in our insane asylums.
JUSTICE LOCKE — Would the defendant have free will in the interval between the attacks or would it be a question of the degree of control?
WITNESS — Yes, he would have free will but to a lesser extent. Many years ago I was asked the same question in a case similar to this. I gave the following example: I compared the defendant to a volcano. An epileptic attack with all its concomitants — shaking, total loss of consciousness, weeping, rolling on the floor — resembles the eruption of a volcano, while that phase of epilepsy in which only the painful, difficult aspect manifests itself — the dogged pursuit of an idea — can be compared to the interval between volcanic eruptions. I cannot find a better example than this.
JUSTICE LOCKE — In between epileptic attacks would the patient be mentally distressed?
WITNESS — Very rarely. Only in the most advanced stages of epilepsy will there be mental disturbance.
JUSTICE LOCKE — Hut did you not testify that the defendant had suffered emotional shock and that this too had affected his behavior?
PRESIDING JUSTICE — The expert witness did say that but, nevertheless, he does not conclude that it explains the incident of March 15, 1921.
WERTHAUER — For us the critical point is the psychological consequence of the epileptic state.
NIEMEYER — The expert witness was unable to tell us what the defendants psychological state was at the moment of the murder.
Expert Witness Professor Dr. Liepmann (privy medical counselor to the Court from the University of Berlin, 58 years old) takes the oath.
WITNESS — I base my diagnosis on today's testimony as well as on three detailed physical examinations of the defendant, which were carried out last week while be was in prison.
I would like to preface my testimony by stating that I found the defendant to be a man of rare sincerity. He did not resort to any histrionics. On the contrary, he was very reserved. There is a certain resignation about him, such that, no matter what happens, he no longer has any interest in living. He made sure that I understood this. This information was not voluntarily given to me, rather I had to pry it out of him.
It is perfectly clear that we are not dealing here with the act of an insane person. It is also clear that the act was not committed while the defendant was in a confused state of mind, such as during an epileptic attack. Generally speaking, I do not think the concept of epilepsy is the magic word giving us the key to the subconscious mind of the defendant.
On the contrary, we have to delve into an area we are not too well acquainted with — the pathology of the person s mind. Having undertaken this, I must state that I take a different view than that of my esteemed colleague, Dr. Störmer.
As I see it, the problem is twofold: the occurrence of severe psychological shocks and their after effects, particularly in the case of persons so disposed, as well as the doctrine of compulsive precept. If an individual in excellent health has endured a severe shock, no matter how fierce the mania, it passes in due course of time. Sometimes it can take a week; in other cases, months. Nevertheless, given time, it subsides. But there are individuals with more sensitive personalities, who are entirely diverted from their normal course by the severe shock. The effect of such shock does not diminish in intensity; rather, fatefully, it is intensified in the psyche.
The recollection of this profound psychological experience is called a compulsive precept. It becomes buried in such personalities and it gradually enslaves the person. It dominates the personality of these individuals. It is always present; it always comes out, forcing the person to submit to its authority. I will now try to prove to you, in detail, that Tehlirian was under the influence of such a compulsive precept and that he was unable to free himself from the memory of the severe shock he had endured.
First, I would like to point out that the terrible events which led to the loss of Tehlirian's family also forced him to digress from his normal pattern of life. This was a serious psychological wound which prevented the defendant from ever regaining his psychological equilibrium.
Let us not forget that the defendant was seventeen years old when be lost his equilibrium. In the succeeding six years, from 1915 to 1921, he wandered restlessly from place to place. He found sanctuary first with the Kurds. Then he stayed for an extended period of time in Tiflis without any steady or definite work. He had taken initial steps to continue his education but, even according to him, he was never able to concentrate and steadfastly pursue his schooling. He then returned to his birthplace, went back to Tiflis, from there to Constantinople. Salonika, Paris, Berlin . . . without finding any peace of mind, without finding an aim in life. Thus, we can believe him when he says that he could never concentrate on any one thing and that his memory began to weaken.
We can easily accept the fact that he was suffering from a psychological disorder which affected both his senses and his mind. However, first and foremost, he was seized by this compulsive precept. I believe him when he says that in public or whenever he was with friends he would temporarily forget those horrible experiences but that, whenever he was alone, they would come alive again and make him very depressed. Furthermore, I believe him when he says that those recollections took physical form; he could see them and smell the stench of the corpses.
However, I do not feet it is essential for us to determine to what degree these visions took physical form. Studies made during the last few decades have shown that the visions or sensory delusions of those who suffer from serious psychological disorders do not necessarily seem entirely physical. What is more essential is to determine the effect these visions have on the psyche.
What are the effects of these psychic shocks on the defendant? As to the seizures then, I cannot, strictly speaking, accept them as epileptic in nature. They are epileptic only in a broad sense. If they were epileptic, the defendant should have exhibited, among other symptoms, biting of the tongue and lips. These did not occur in the defendants case. He has not had a lack of urinary control either. In most cases, he has not bled after falling, as quite often happens with epileptics.
In my opinion, the attacks were not epileptic in nature but rather mental breakdowns. These seizures were not caused by physical impulses in the brain but rather by severe psychic shocks. The two instances show, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that we are dealing here with mental breakdowns. I shall elaborate on them a little later.
I differ from my esteemed colleague, Dr. Störmer, in that I do not see two forces operating on the defendant side by side: physical epilepsy as well as psychological disorder. In my opinion, these attacks are the expression of severe psychic shock. These are nervous breakdowns and their significance is that they reflect a severe injury to the psyche. Therefore, once the entire recollection of the calamity was upon him and once it criss-crossed any other thought or feeling and appeared in physical form — seeing his mother — we have the singular creation of compulsive precept.
No matter what we asked Tehlirian — Did he consider himself competent to commit the killing? Did he consider himself competent to play the role of judge? — his answers were always the same, i.e., that his mother had obligated him to perform the act of killing and hence there was no further question as far as he was concerned. I asked him whether or not being a Christian presented an obstacle to him. He told me he was well aware that Christianity prohibits killing but after seeing a vision of his mother he knew that he was on the right track. His vision of his mother was an all-powerful force, thus making any further argument pointless.
After having said all this, I must say that in the case of the defendant, a psychotic has committed an act under psychological pressure. There were motives of suffering which put pressure on the defendant and limited his free will. I emphasize my use of the word pressure and not force.
I am, personally at least, ready to state that only the psychological freedom of his will was substantially confined. There is no question that Tehlirian is a mentally disturbed person at the mercy of the compulsive precept.
Unfortunately, the new penal law concerning partial responsibility is not yet in use. I conclude that the defendant is completely incapable of accepting responsibility and it also does not seem that he was under the influence of an inevitable force. Therefore, in my opinion, he is not subject to Article 51 (which requires that he be responsible for his acts) but is very close to it because he would have had to exercise a moral effort to resist and not succumb to the pressures bearing upon him.
One wonders if the defendant committed the crime with premeditation. I will avoid making judgment on a legal issue. But I feel obligated to picture the circumstances under which, I think, the defendant found himself. I must state that for all patients who suffer from a compulsive precept its emergence is linked with extremely severe emotional agitation. I must also admit the following: when the defendant used to recall the massacres and Talaat, he would become very emotional and, at such times, it would not be possible for him to reflect on the consequences and his motives in a detached manner.
The reason for my concluding that the defendant is suffering from agitated emotional epilepsy which, strictly speaking, is not epilepsy but rather involves mental breakdowns, is that the defendants first attack came as a result of a severe psychic shock brought on by the visit to his home, the view of the ruins — in short, a very deep emotional experience. Thereafter, as he relates, each subsequent attack would begin with the scene of the massacres and the stench of the corpses. In each case we have the manifest remembrance of a traumatic experience. Primarily on the basis of this, I come to the conclusion that the defendant was suffering from emotional epilepsy — that is to say, mental or nervous breakdowns.
The hallucination of smelling the stench of the corpses, which really occurs in patients suffering from actual epilepsy, does not have a local, provocative, and demonstrative significance in this particular case.
Expert Witness Dr. Richard Cassirer (neurologist and professor at Berlin University, 43 years old) takes the oath.
WITNESS — I shall give my opinion based on two examinations of the defendant, which I performed in February, before the incident, as well as on the impressions I have received during this trial. I have not seen the defendant since the second time I examined him.
The defendant first came to my clinic on February 5th and the second time on February 18th. Through an interpreter he described his illness to me.
He was born of healthy parents. There is no family history of epilepsy. He did not relate to me particularly significant things concerning the drastic emotional upheavals he had endured. He told me that he had his first attack in 1917 and the second a year later. Subsequent ones occurred every three to four months and then the attacks began to take place more frequently; that was the reason why he had come to see me.
He told me he would feel uncomfortable at the beginning of the attack, tremble, smell the revolting stench of corpses, and then lose consciousness. The defendant told me from the beginning that he did not bite his tongue, he did not have uncontrolled urination and, as others have told him, he would foam at the mouth.
My examination did not indicate any disorder of the nervous system. I had his blood and urine analyzed, but the results were negative. On the basis of the foregoing, I concluded that the defendant was suffering from epilepsy and based my diagnosis on the fact that the attacks were becoming more frequent and the defendant sensed a pungent odor, which often precedes an epileptic seizure. If I am not mistaken, I then prescribed him medication which I knew would affect the normal functioning of his brain. Having taken this medication, the defendant felt exhausted and that is partially the reason why he discontinued his studies.
Nevertheless, as a result of the testimony that I have heard in court today, I cannot maintain my diagnosis of epilepsy. At the present time I am more inclined to the view that the defendant is not suffering from epilepsy, but rather he is experiencing emotional upheavals which are closely related to his psyche.
As a result of the experiences gathered from the World War, we are in a better position today to recognize the nature of these convulsions. We, thus, have been able to realize how severe emotional shocks, occurring all at once, can give rise to convulsions in the case of persons so disposed, which we diagnose as convulsions due to mental breakdown or emotional epilepsy.
Based on this same evidence, I conclude, as has Professor Liepmann, that the defendant is suffering from emotional epilepsy. The primary basis for this diagnosis is that the defendant's total psychological being has been subjected to drastic change. This psychosis is evident not only in the manifestation of convulsions, which for the most part are combined with provocations, but in other symptoms as well. Psychic astasia has given rise to irregular mental phenomena — for example, the appearance of his mother in his dreams. Of course, we do not have an actual trance but rather a conscious dream directive which is not present when he is fully awake. In conjunction with this, we also have dispositional aberrations: for example, as many have testified, the defendant invariably suffered from depression. The defendant made a very significant statement when he said, When I feel bad my mother appears to me. What this means is that whenever the defendant was tired, exhausted, or being consumed by grief and memories, he would have the delusion. This circumstance of seeing his mother is strictly a psychotic one.
For this reason, I conclude that the defendant has become quite psychotic. And this illness stems from the influence of the most severe psychological shocks imaginable. Furthermore, this psychosis has manifested itself as a persistent occurrence of mental breakdown in the form of emotional epileptic seizures which in themselves are signs of very marked damage to ones psychological equilibrium.
In this sense, the defendants emotional experience has triggered the behavior leading to the act. In the case of the individual so disposed, when faced with his parents murderer, the notion of taking revenge ripened in the defendant.
It is because of this heavy damage to the psyche that the defendant did not take into consideration a whole series of inhibitions which would have restricted any normal person from committing the act. I conclude, as well, that there are certain normal motives which in the defendant gave rise to the idea of committing such an act. But besides these normal motives, there are also various sick motives which made the killing possible; that act would not have taken place if he had had his normal inhibitions. I am also certain that there is no question but that the defendant was in a confused state of mind.
I am convinced that certain basic, extreme factors played an important role in the defendants execution of the act. Even though I do not want to insist that the defendant, at the time of the killing, was in a state where responsibility for his actions was totally absent (as is required by Article 51), I feel the defendant was very close to being in such a state. We psychiatrists are unable to draw the boundary line categorically and precisely.
WERTHAUER — Do you have any basic doubts that the defendant committed these acts by his own free and conscious will?
WITNESS — I have no doubt whatsoever that his free will was not totally absent.
WERTHAUER — You have no doubt whatsoever that his free will was not absent?
WITNESS — I insist that his free will was not totally absent.
WERTHAUER — I would like to ask the following: Is there any doubt, from a medical point of view, that his free will was absent?
WITNESS — No.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — In other words, you have no doubt that his free will existed. Is it possible to determine what the defendants psychological condition was at the time of the killing?
WITNESS — It is not possible to determine that. We can only surmise.
Expert Witness Professor Dr. Edmund Forster (psychiatrist, professor at Berlin University, and chief physician of the Neurological Clinic at Berlin University, 42, years old, Protestant), representing Dr. Bonhöffer, takes the oath.
WITNESS — In essence, I concur in the opinion of Dr. Liepmann and Professor Dr. Cassirer, both authorities in their field. However, it seems to me that there are still a number of points which require clarification.
Having heard all of the sufferings of the defendant, one has the feeling that it is perfectly comprehensible that he had to kill Talaat, whom he considered to be a murderer. This brings us to the first question. Would a normal person have done the same? This is not necessarily true. It is one thing for a normal person, under the same circumstances, to think I am going to kill Talaat. Yet, it is altogether something else for one to perpetrate the act. Other Armenians, who suffered the same hardships and perhaps had the same thought of revenge, did not in fact commit the crime. The crime, by itself, certainly does not prove that the perpetrator of the crime was ill. The second question is the following: Does it necessarily follow that anyone who has suffered the same horrors becomes sick in the mind as a result? This is not so either. On this point I might be able to give a precise opinion, since I worked in a danger zone throughout the war. Experience has shown that the human being can withstand unimaginable horrors without becoming psychologically disturbed. Even though, to a layman, this might sound incredulous, objective statistics have shown that there has been no increase in the number of psychologically disturbed people as a result of the war, whereas only those who were disposed to mental illness have demonstrated increased frequency of symptoms as a result of the war.
I am in agreement with the previous expert witness that, in the case of the defendant, we are unquestionably faced with a psychologically disturbed person. Consequently, it is quite possible for him to react in an extreme way to horrible events. Again, I am in agreement with Professor Liepmann and Professor Cassirer that what we have here is not real epilepsy, but rather emotional epilepsy.
From my two detailed examinations of the defendant and the testimony of the witnesses, I concluded that the convulsions demonstrate only emotional epilepsy. The defendant had never had such convulsions prior to the shattering emotional experiences he endured. The defendant recalls his frightful experiences. He talks, in no uncertain terms, of seeing the corpses and sensing their stench. He then has the convulsions, but he does not shriek or have spasms, which are symptoms characteristic of normal epilepsy. He shakes, moans and groans, and then falls down. This is the order of these attacks. He relives those terrible days so vividly that he loses consciousness. He recalls whatever events he has experienced so vividly that he feels the emotions he would feel if the events were actually taking place. This order is the same as that which occurs in the case of a starving person. First, he salivates when he thinks about a piece of meat freshly fried. In this case, the same effect occurs in the imagination as would occur if he were really to eat that piece of meat.
However, not everyone who has suffered such frightful events has such attacks. Only persons predisposed to psychological illness are subject to them. Furthermore, only those who are mentally sick undergo a change in their basic personality on account of such recollections and similar compulsive precepts. I am further inclined to concur with Professor Liepmann that, as a result of these deeply embedded ideas, a change has taken place in the personality of the defendant, and such change has occurred in the manner described by the ingenious German psychiatrist, Karl Wernicke.
The defendant can no longer claim his "rights". His kinsmen are dead. He told me that his life no longer has any meaning for him. I objected by saying, "Is it not true that you could get married and pursue a profession?" "Why should I get married?" he replied. He does not want to obtain justice by himself. He does not want to take revenge. But the compulsion of his sick mind asserts itself over and over again, as do his mothers demands. He repeatedly wavers because the act of killing is quite distasteful to his nature. He repeats insistently, "I am not a murderer, my mother told me to do it and I had to do it." His whole personality has changed. I have no doubt whatsoever in my mind that we are dealing here with a sick personality, who has been drastically affected by emotional shocks and committed the punishable crime as a result of their influence on him.
So the question is this: Do the provisions of Article 51 apply to this case? That there are unusual motives is undeniable. In the case of psychological illnesses brought about by compulsive ideas, it is not possible to give a simple "yes" or "no" answer to the question, "Is he or is he not psychologically ill?"
Every fanatic, every individual, who follows the directive of a dominant idea is something of a psychologically sick person in the clutches of a compulsive idea. Contrary to the strict definition of the word "sick", what we have here is a matter of degree.
To give a simple "yes" or "no" answer to the question, "Was the malady of the defendant severe enough for the provisions to fit it?," is very difficult. Undoubtedly it is a matter of opinion where the line is to be drawn. I am generally inclined to restrict the parameters of Article 51, because the law definitively requires that there be a total absence of free will. With the incident in question, we are faced with so many difficult indications pertaining to the excessive effect of a compulsive idea on the defendant that we can at least say that the provisions of Article 51 come very close to fitting the present case. I am even inclined to say that free will was totally absent. The question whether or not we have "fundamental doubt" is not very appropriate. I have no fundamental doubt as to the illness of the defendant; I only have doubt as to how my medical judgments can be translated into a legal opinion. But, after all, that is not my task; it is more the task of the jury to interpret my medical testimony in determining the legal implications of the question.
VON GORDON — Do you think it is perhaps possible that, after this outburst, the defendants epilepsy, his emotional epilepsy, will disappear and he will no longer suffer from emotional epileptic convulsions?
WITNESS — I do not think so. At least, it is not possible to predict that. But experiments have shown that similar compulsive ideas eventually diminish in intensity as the individual goes into another environment which has no relationship to the causes of these compulsive precepts. However, the minute he meets an old acquaintance and reflects on past incidents, he would have a relapse.
Expert Witness Dr. Bruno Haake (neurologist) takes the oath.
WITNESS — In view of the detailed medical testimony already presented to you, I can be quite brief. On February 4th of this year I first saw the defendant in my clinic, with his interpreter, whom I recognized in court as Mr. Apelian. I was under the impression then that the defendant was suffering from epilepsy and I made a note to that effect in my notebook. But today I am of the opinion that the defendant is suffering from emotional epilepsy as a result of a psychological shock. I would like to add that, from my point of view, an emotional epileptic, such as the defendant, is unable freely to control his will under the constraint of such mental images. I would therefore like to take this point a little further than the previous expert witnesses and give an affirmative answer to the question, Was there a total tack of free will?
(No more questions were put to the expert medical witnesses. It was decided not to cross-examine the French interpreter, expert witness Professor Pfefer.)
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Perhaps it can be generally stated that there shall be no more new evidence presented and no further cross examination of any witnesses.
WERTHAUER — The second penal senate of our Supreme Court has held that when a general stipulation is made, in effect, all motions or rejection of motions previously presented are no longer in effect. For this reason, I shall not make such a general stipulation; rather, I shall stipulate on each motion as it arises.
VON GORDON — I too agree with that.
DEFENDANT — I am in agreement.
(The trial is recessed until nine o'clock Thursday morning)
Trial of Soghomon Tehlirian-Second Day
THE SECOND DAY OF TRIAL
Presiding Justice Lehmberg convenes the court to session at 9:15 A.M.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — We will continue with the trial. All the questions required to bring about the verdict are present.
The de facto evidence, to the extent it is mentioned in the writ of accusation, has been exhaustively reviewed.
That being so, I would like to read the questions that I have drawn up:
1. Is the defendant Soghomon Tehlirian guilty of having intentionally killed Talaat Pasha on Charlottenburgstrasse on March 15, 1921?
This question pertains to unpremeditated killing. The second question pertains to premeditated killing. The second question shall be answered only if an affirmative answer is given to the first question.
2. Did the defendant commit the crime with premeditation?
After this comes the third question, which is to be answered only in the event that the answer to the first question is affirmative and the answer to the second question is negative.
3. Are there extenuating circumstances?
Are there any gaps to be filled pertaining to these questions? If not, I shall recognize the District Attorney.
VON GORDON — All the witnesses suggested by us have come here. They should be officially informed that we have refrained from questioning them. In addition, Mr. Vosganian, who was going to testify concerning the background of the defendant and his family, has arrived here from Serbia. Also I am informed that Armin Wegner, whom we had asked to testify and who had taken pictures at the time of the massacres, has placed himself at our disposal. However, in compliance with the wishes of this court, we feel we do not need additional proof; we already know what we needed to know.
JUROR — Mr. President, we have present, here in the audience, an Indian who has said that all those fights and killings were caused not by economic factors but rather religious ones.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Gentlemen, that has no direct bearing on the homicide; however, in order to make it possible for the motives to be revealed in all their depth and in order to understand the tremendous impressions generated by those horrible events, I gave a lot of leeway to obtain an overall picture of what happened. Therefore, I do not feel it necessary to concern ourselves with those matters again today.
VON GORDON — Your Honor, if members of the jury wish, I feel we should supply all the information necessary to satisfy them. I should thus like to recall Professor Lepsius as an expert witness.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Dr. Lepsius has already expressed his opinion in detail.
JUROR — In a general sense we are satisfied with the proof presented thus far; we would like elucidation only on this particular point.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Nevertheless, I am opposed to listening to any testimony today which, to my way of thinking, is not germane to the issue before us.
VON GORDON — We have heard that certain foreigners have talked to a number of the jurors on this subject and, if members of the jury would like further clarification, we should try to fulfill their desires.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Whether it was for religious or other reasons one of the witnesses also indicated that these measures were considered by the Turkish government to be indispensable ... these are all tangential to the issue before us.
VON GORDON — Perhaps you will allow me to say a few words on this subject.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — I would prefer that you cover this topic in your summation. I would now like to thank all the witnesses who have come here. The participants in this trial have abstained from calling any new witnesses. Naturally, those who wish may remain and listen to the conclusion of the trial.
I will now call upon the District Attorney to present his opinion concerning the guilt of the defendant.
DISTRICT ATTORNEY — Members of the jury, it is not the legal implications of this criminal case which give it special significance and explain the intense interest being shown in it, not only in our country, but in other countries as well. To account for such attention we have to look at the other aspects of this case. In view of its psychological causes, the incident takes us back to events that took place during the World War. This case has, as its root, the bloody and savage events that took place in Asia Minor and it is as if we again have to hear the thunder of the World War. Furthermore, it is the personality of the victim of the act that gives the latter an added significance. From a nameless and unknown mass of people, a hand rose up and struck down a human being who held the reins of his country in band while it was involved in a world struggle. He was the faithful ally of the German people and together rode the waves of fortune.
However, gentlemen of the jury, these recollections and impressions cannot obligate the accuser and the judge to dismiss the incident and let the perpetrator of the incident go free. We must view the matter solely from the point of view of penal justice, as the law demands.
From a legal point of view, the case is quite simple. On March 15, 1921, the defendant shot and killed Talaat Pasha on Charlottenburgstrasse. The aim was well taken. Death was instantaneous and there is no doubt that the defendant wanted to kill. He committed the act intentionally. Did the defendant not testify that he still felt gratified in having successfully committed that act? The commission of a homicide is punishable under German law. The perpetrator has to be punished where a human beings life has been taken. In the eyes of the law, it makes no difference whether the victim was a German citizen or not. According to Article 3 of the Penal Code, the law applies throughout Germany for any crimes committed within its borders.
Gentlemen of the jury, the defendant made several remarks that were peculiar from a number of points of view when he was apprehended right after the commission of the act and found himself surrounded by an angry mob. He said, This is no loss to Germany. I am an Armenian. He is a Turk. What he meant by that was that they were foreigners and, therefore, that the act was of no concern to Germany. This exclamation has no significance at all in terms of penal justice. Whether or not the victim and/or the perpetrator of the crime were citizens of Germany has no bearing. According to our laws, the defendant has to be punished if, of course, there are no circumstances which would make this an excusable homicide. I shall get to this later.
First and foremost we should clarify the point as to whether or not this was a premeditated crime. The law distinguishes between a premeditated and non-premeditated crime. The punishment for the former is very severe — the death penalty. For the latter, that is a killing committed at the time of emotional distress, the penalty is less severe.
Likewise, I can accept a familiar fact: where the perpetration of the crime is done with definite deliberation and premeditation, when the act is committed under calm and clear circumstances, with consciousness of the rational implications and motives of the act, of the means and consequences of committing the crime, as well as of the moral absolutes to avert the act. In other words, the first type of killing is one in which the defendant can take into consideration all these factors. Furthermore, he is able to assess the pros and cons of the act and then reach a decision on the basis of these purely rational considerations.
I ask you, Did the defendant commit this act following such deliberation? Naturally I also have to ask a second question: What factors led the defendant to commit this act?
There is no question in my mind that what we are dealing with here is a political assassination. The defendants motives were political hatred and political vengeance.
A graphic picture of events that took place in far-off places unfolded before you. Without a doubt, horrid events took place; dreadful events befell the Armenian people. Undoubtedly, horrible things happened to the defendant and his family. Also there is no doubt that a brutal fate afflicted his very essence; all of his relatives were subjected to death and he was forced to be an eyewitness to all of this. The defendant, because of what he had seen and suffered, became vengeful. When he became vengeful is something I will get into a little later.
It is also quite clear that the defendant held Talaat Pasha to be the responsible party for the acts. The defendant looked upon Talaat as the person who struck down his compatriots, his parents and relatives, and, indeed, himself. Furthermore, the defendant looked upon Talaat not merely as the Minister of Interior who, because of his position, would presumably be held politically liable for the acts committed during his tenure in office, but also as personally and morally the author of the above mentioned offenses.
Gentlemen of the jury, the determination of these motives is sufficient to judge Tehlirian's act from the penal-legal point of view.
But the examination of the witnesses went into the question of whether Talaat was really the personal and moral author of these crimes. Even though, in my opinion, it makes no difference whatsoever, from a legal point of view, whether or not Talaat was the author or whether the defendants notion that Talaat was the author corresponds to the truth, nevertheless, since the witnesses did expound on this point, I feel obligated to comment.
Gentlemen of the jury, it is patently clear and witnesses have so indicated, that the Armenians and their friends are convinced of Talaat’s responsibility for the crimes committed against them. However, gentlemen, this is not an impartial view. It would have been easy for us to bring a whole series of witnesses to give an altogether different picture of what took place. I have personally spoken with many Germans who were in Turkey and were close to scenes of the incidents in question, and they have an altogether different grasp of what happened than what you have heard here. They stated that there is no basis even for saying that the government of Constantinople had decided to annihilate the Armenians; rather it was the considerations of governmental and military security — perhaps misunderstood — which motivated Talaat to issue the order for deportation, the result of which, to be sure, had fatal consequences.
PRESIDING JUSTICE (interrupting) — I would appreciate it if you would not dwell at length on this matter which was not the topic of discussion during cross-examination of the witnesses. Moreover, mentioning incidents which others have discussed has nothing at all to do with the case before us.
DISTRICT ATTORNEY (continuing) — Nevertheless, I can make use of the testimony to the extent that there was a difference between the statements and the point of view of the two expert witnesses. I find that the testimony of Dr. Lepsius, though detailed and interesting, is nevertheless deficient in that it ascribes, in my opinion, a systematic and planned nature to the crimes committed against the Armenians. It is not hard to see that he came to this conclusion, not on account of what he saw and experienced in Turkey, but in light of evidence that has more recently been uncovered. For that reason I think I am correct in giving more weight to the testimony of General Liman von Sanders, who was in Turkey, held an important position and was close to the scene of the events that took place. General von Sanders testified explicitly as to the difference between the understanding behind the order given in Constantinople to deport the Armenians and the manner in which the deportation was carried out. The government in Constantinople had received word that the Armenians were thinking of betraying the government and plotting with the Allied Powers. It was decided that, as soon as the opportunity was ripe, they would attack the Turks from behind and create an independent Armenia. Thus, for defensive and military reasons, the government in Constantinople considered it necessary to deport the Armenians. As to the character of these deportations, we should take into consideration, gentlemen of the jury, that Asia Minor is not exactly a place in which conditions characteristic of civilized peoples prevail. I feel I should be careful in how I put this, i.e., those conditions which we were used to before the war. The tradition in Asia Minor has always been one of savagery and bloodshed, and our expert witnesses testified that, in 1915 a "Holy War" had already been declared. When people belonging to different nationalities and of different faiths saw that all the Armenians were being deported to one place by the Turks, they looked upon this naturally as an invitation to battle and attacked them. And this is how the beastly instincts of men came forth, causing tooting, killing, etc. The expert witness testified further that during the deportation the soldiers who were guarding the caravans were no longer members of the regular select military, but rather "gendarmes", actually vagabonds who, on their own initiative, committed the killings known to us all.
I feel it essential to make this digression to show that the testimony presented here does not identify Talaat as personally and morally responsible for the killings. The various documents that they wished to call to our attention do not convince me otherwise. As District Attorney, I know, for example, that exactly the same sort of documents appeared during our period of revolutionary upheavals, bearing the signatures of prominent persons. After the war, as they later insisted, it was shown that the signatures had been forged. Finally, the verdict of the tribunal in Constantinople against Talaat, mentioned in this court, cannot convince me of his culpability. I do not know if the tribunal had all of the evidence before it. It is possible; however, we must not forget that whenever a government falls, the members of the succeeding government look upon the members of the former government as criminals. I hardly need remind you of the alacrity and upheaval with which a new government came into power in Turkey, that the government of the Young Turks was friendly to the Central Powers, while the new government, on the contrary, was forced to side with the Allied Powers. Therefore, as I indicated earlier, we are unable to tell whether or not the tribunal of Constantinople acted justly in condemning Talaat. I repeat, the testimony of the witnesses did not, in the least, implicate Talaat morally for the killings of the Armenians.
To turn to the homicide. As I indicated, the motive of the defendant was to get revenge through killing Talaat, who he was convinced was the instigator and perpetrator of the massacres of the Armenians.
Gentlemen, this motive of revenge is not an ignoble one by any means; on the contrary, it is an easy one to comprehend as long as human beings are able to love and hate.
Later on, when I ask whether the defendant acted with premeditation, it will be easy to see how motives of revenge made his premeditated killing. When you consider carefully how the defendant, after seeing his parents house in Erzinga in ruins, scoured Europe until he came to Berlin and found Talaat, it will not be difficult to conclude that he was possessed by a fanatical, revengeful idea that drew him like a magnet to the home and doorway of the victim.
Thus, in my opinion, the statement he made when he was first interrogated is absolutely truthful. I have no doubt whatsoever that it corresponds to the truth. At the time the defendant said, "As soon as I saw my parents home in ruins, I wanted to avenge their deaths. In order to do that, I went and bought a pistol..."
Gentlemen, I do not want to dwell on this point any further. There may be doubts about this. In point of fact, the defendant himself retracted his statements to that effect, saying they had been made when he was weak of mind and under the immediate influence of shock caused by killing. But I would like to emphasize a statement which the defendant made to the police inspector and repeated in this courtroom. According to his statement, the first time he thought of killing Talaat was fourteen days before the actual killing. Therefore, we can see how the defendant followed through his intention to the end, with a certain plan and weighing all the factors. We see how he left his previous lodging; how he justified that on health grounds; how he followed him and found out at what time Talaat normally left his house; how, on March 15th, he put his pistol in his pocket, followed Talaat and then passed in front of him to make sure it was Talaat Pasha; how he let the victim pass him so he would be behind him again and how he fired upon him from behind. The aim was well taken; death was instantaneous.
For further proof that this was a premeditated crime, let us look to another statement he made to the police. In answer to the question "Why did you not fire when you were facing him?", he said, "I might not have succeeded. He would have tried to defend himself; he might have moved and I could not be sure that my shot would kill."
Gentlemen of the jury, we also see from the evidence that this crime was committed intentionally and very calmly. You recall how he threw his pistol away and tried to escape. When he was caught and beaten, he said, "The person I killed is not German. I am not German. You Germans have no reason to be saddened on account of this incident. It does not concern you at all."
Taking all these circumstances into consideration, we can only conclude that the killing was carried out in a perfectly cold-blooded manner; it was well thought-out and deliberated upon in advance.
Now let us took at the defendants temperament. Was the defendant hat-tempered or easily provoked? The evidence is to the contrary. He was a gloomy and calm man, wrapped up in himself. He was not one to dance with joy or have fits of passion. On the contrary, he was one who kept his thoughts to himself to a point where he would calmly analyze them and take action.
Thus, in my opinion, it is possible to consider it a totally objectively proven fact that the basic signs of a truly premeditated killing did exist. However, all this would not be sufficient to subject the defendant to punitive measures. We should also determine whether or not there are any extenuating circumstances which, as I said at the outset, would allow the defendant to go unpunished. Here is where Article 51 of the German Penal Code applies; it says that a homicide should go unpunished when the defendant committed the act unknowingly or when he commits the act under the influence of mental anguish that he no longer has control over his free will. Therefore, when the case concerns the act of an individual subject to severe emotional turmoil, the law does not recognize the killing to be punishable; rather, it treats it as an unfortunate accident— just as if, for example, someone were to be killed by the kick of a horse. Under these circumstances, according to the law, there is not a culpable party and, as such, there are no punitive measures to be taken. Hence, what we have to figure out is whether or not there were any such circumstances in the case of the defendant.
Gentlemen, it goes without saying that if all the expert witnesses were to give the same opinion, then the Court would naturally be obligated to make a decision in accordance with their conclusion. Unfortunately, however, in this case, we do not have a unanimity of opinion on the part of the expert witnesses. Consequently, the Court itself is required to decide whether or not the dispositions of Article 51 are applicable.
You heard three of the expert witnesses testify that those dispositions do not apply to this case. It is true that the defendant is an epileptic, subject to convulsive attacks. However, that circumstance in itself is still not sufficient, because the defendant was deprived of his free will only during these convulsive attacks, while he was a normal individual at other times. For this reason, every time it is said the defendant is an epileptic, the Court and the expert witnesses ask the following question: Did he have a convulsive attack at the time he committed the crime or immediately prior? If not, then be acted as a normal person.
The first three expert witnesses were of this opinion while the latter two explained that at the time of the commission of the crime the defendant was not accountable for his actions.
It is then up to the Court itself to decide. Therefore, it is essential to examine the personality of the defendant as revealed by his behavior during the trial. I am convinced that his behavior in Court demonstrated to us that we are dealing with a highly intelligent person. His answers were decisive and always to the point. We should have seen some peculiar behavior, but this was totally absent. The defendant has lived a life like anyone else his age. His economic situation was such that he was not absolutely obligated to seek employment. He visited his relatives and friends and took dancing lessons. His landladies describe him as a calm and modest person. Thus, from all the evidence, we can see that, except for the times when he was suffering from epileptic attacks, he was a mentally competent person. Consequently, I feel we must concur with the three expert witnesses who denied the applicability of Article 51 to this case.
Gentlemen, presumably you are aware that a new penal code will be forthcoming in the near future as a result of judicial reforms; its rough draft has already been prepared. That penal code prescribes the death penalty for premeditated murder, but it recognizes extenuating circumstances which make it possible to change the death penalty to another and milder penalty. However, the laws, as they stand today, do not recognize extenuating circumstances. Though I know that will sound quite severe to some of you, yet I am obliged to request that you find the defendant guilty of having committed premeditated murder . We should not consider only the defendant, but also the victim. We should remember that a man's life was taken in his prime. His death is mourned by his widow and relatives. He was looked upon as a great patriot and an honorable man at least by his compatriots and coreligionists.
Finally, gentlemen, those circumstances favorable to the defendant will be taken into full consideration by the appropriate body if and when a decision is made as to whether he should be forgiven for his act.
In conclusion, I propose that you give an affirmative answer to the questions put to you by this court, and find the defendant guilty of having killed Talaat Pasha with premeditation.
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Would the interpreter please inform the defendant that the District Attorney has asked the jury to find the defendant guilty of premeditated homicide?
Defense Attorney Adolf von Gordon (privy legal counselor, Berlin).
Gentlemen, the District Attorney mentioned that if you declare the defendant Tehliryan guilty of premeditated murder and thus lay the foundation for the implementation of the death penalty, it would not be a serious matter since the President of our Republic will undoubtedly grant him a pardon.
I do not consider this a permissible way to influence you. If you find the defendant guilty, he will be sentenced to death and none of us is in a position to tell what decision the President of our Republic will take with regard to a pardon. What we should do here is consider the evidence, not speculate whether or not the defendant will be pardoned.
I was glad to welcome, in the person of the District Attorney — in a way a colleague — a supporter; but a supporter, not of Tehlirian but of Talaat Pasha, reporting on what this person or that one had told him. Gentlemen, I will not follow him in that direction. I reject that procedure deliberately.
I have a whole arsenal of telegrams with me and indeed there is a witness sitting in this Courtroom who says, Those telegrams are authentic. I got hold of them. I already made this point during the trial. I made a proposal and then withdrew it because it is essential for us to determine, not whether Talaat was guilty of killing the Armenians but rather whether the defendant and other Armenians were convinced that Talaat was the guilty party.
You have demonstrated that you believe the defendant in this regard. And if, during the trial, there were any doubts, they were eliminated by the testimony of Bishop Balakian, who said, My professor and I, having been exiled together, went to the Vali (district-governor) of Changere. We asked him to help us. He showed us a telegram in which Talaat asked, How many of the deportees are alive and how many are dead? We all understood the meaning of this. This was the only instance when the question of Talaat’s guilt was brought before you. We refrained from presenting any other evidence on this point. Suffice it to say that within a few months, of the 1,800,000 Armenians living in Turkey, 1,400,000 were deported and 1,000,000 of the latter were killed. I will let you decide whether or not this massive and systematic deportation was possible without directives from the top. Was the Turkish government really too powerless to take any type of preventive measures? Do you believe that? I certainly cannot.
As a third preliminary observation, the District Attorney mentioned, with some hesitation and anxiety, the statement attributed to the defendant made the day following the incident in question. These statements purportedly proved that the defendant had premeditated this killing — that the defendant had decided to kill Talaat right after the massacres when he saw his parents home in ruins.
Gentlemen, we should not consider insubstantial evidence. Seated before you is the gentleman who served as an interpreter during the first interrogation of the defendant. The interpreter considered him a great man and he himself was so enraptured by what happened as to consider it a great event. You heard him testify that he found the defendant in a state of emotional shock. He was suffering from fever, he was wounded, beaten, and exhausted to the extent that he answered every question in the affirmative. "Yes, just leave me alone. I know what I have done and what I have done is good. Now I don't want you to bother me anymore." The interpreter further testified that he was asked to translate these statements of the defendant. He told them, "If you had asked him questions in the negative, he still would have answered by saying yes." When the interpreter was then asked to sign the defendants statement, he said, "I shall not sign this because it is not perfectly accurate." Thus, we should only consider evidence presented in this courtroom as the Presiding Justice has already instructed you to do.
The defendant was born in Pakarij and came to Erzinga when he was four years old. This city, one of the largest in the region, is 100 to 150 kilometers west of Garin, on one of the two branches of the Euphrates River which extends nearly as far as Erzerum. There is along, wide valley here which is the way southward, in the direction of the Middle Euphrates and toward the desert, to which Armenians were to be exiled.
In Erzinga, there were some 20,000 Armenians and approximately 25,000-30,000 Turks. The defendants parents were middle-class. His father was a fairly successful merchant. His parents had accumulated modest savings. They were a large and peaceful family. They had suffered somewhat from the war but, until June 1915, everything was quiet and orderly.
Then the disastrous news came from Constantinople that the Armenians were being deported. An announcement was made: You should get together everything that you can carry within a few days, as you will be deported. On June 10th, the deportation began. First the rich and the well-to-do, who had horses and carriages, were deported. This was the first group. The defendant and his parents were in the second group. The defendant is not in a position to testify as to how large that group was. There were many other groups that followed these. Outside the city limits they were joined by the Armenians rounded up from the neighboring villages. The defendant was unable to see the end of the caravan; he walked in the middle of the caravan with his fifteen year-old sister. I believe his sixteen year-old sister was with him as well. His twenty-six year-old sister and her child were there too. In addition there were his two brothers, who were twenty-two and twenty-four years old respectively, and finally his mother and father, who were fifty and fifty-five years old respectively. Thus the whole family walked with their oxcart.
They had not gone very far before they were attacked. Who attacked them? The gendarmes did — General Liman von Sanders described them as they were then — as well as mobs of Kurds, Turks, and others. First they took any weapons the Armenians had, even to the point of taking their umbrellas; they then took their money, gold, and food. They took the most precious possession of the women to satisfy their bestial passions. Young girls, among whom were the defendants fifteen and sixteen year-old sisters, were dragged into the bushes. Their parents and the defendant who were in a ditch heard their shrieks and realized what was happening to them. They never saw the girls again. The defendant was able to see the corpse of one of his sisters when he regained consciousness. What about his brother? His twenty-two year old brothers head — and this was the most shocking sight — was split in two by a gleaming axe. Even to this date, the defendant sees this horrifying image when he loses emotional control. Before his eyes he saw his mother fall, probably hit by a bullet. The others disappeared without trace, even though the defendant constantly tried to determine their whereabouts by means of missing persons advertisements.
The defendant was unable to see more than this as he too was hit from behind on the head by a blunt object. Doctors, even now, can establish the existence of the resulting wound. This horrible blow is the only thing he still remembers. He fell to the ground unconscious and it was evening when he regained consciousness. Surrounded by thousands of corpses, he discovered he had been struck by a bullet in his arm and by a sword in his knee. The scars of those wounds are still visible. In the semi-darkness he was able to determine where he was and even tried to find the bodies of his parents, brothers, and sisters. There was not a single survivor of the massacre in his vicinity. He tried to find sanctuary by escaping from that place. He went to the mountains, which he knew quite well. A kind Kurdish woman gave him shelter until his wounds healed. He then continued his escape until finally, after a months wandering, he reached the borders of Russia. He was apprehended by the border patrol and then released. He was hospitably received by the Russian Armenians, who helped him get to Persia where he was able to find employment with a merchant and earn his livelihood.
Gentlemen, this horrible massacre is so incredible that at first we had doubts as to whether or not the gentlemen of the jury would believe the defendants testimony. And actually a few days ago, opponents published a sensational booklet, entitled The Secret of the Murder of Talaat Pasha, that was tasteless. There is, of course, no secret here since the issue is all together simple and nothing there merits credibility. The young Armenian, the booklet states, had assumed the responsibility to kill Talaat Pasha (it implies that there was a major Power behind the event). The booklet also states, It has been a tool of the barbaric fanaticism which characterizes its race who acted without thinking and without knowing what he was doing. His moving story as to how Turks carried away his parents obviously aims at getting the sympathy of the judges. Had the author of that booklet been in this room yesterday and listened to the testimony given by Mrs. Terzibashian, he certainly would have gone away with a strongly felt need to take back his words.
We would like to introduce here even more extensive evidence. Present in the courtroom are two German Sisters of Mercy who were in Erzinga at that same moment and who sent reports to our Foreign Ministry on the events taking place there. I refrained from questioning those witnesses since it was sufficient that three weeks after those events, our witness, Mrs. Terzibashian, coming from Garin, meaning the east, passed through Erzinga in an equally large caravan and went through the gorge of Kemakh. I would not wish to repeat any of the words she used to describe those horrible events. She already told us about the corpses of the caravans that passed before her. She told us how men and children were thrown into the river. All of this substantial evidence corresponds exactly to the testimony of Tehlirian and that is why I am mentioning this here. What Tehlirian told us here is the truth and not a sensational story.
In 1917 the Russian Revolution occurred. Having captured Garin (in the province of Erzerum), the Russians advanced as far as Erzinga. The defendant, who was living and working in Persia at the time, heard of the advance of the Russians and decided to return to Erzinga to see if any members of his family were alive and generally to check out the situation there. He arrived in Erzinga and saw his parents home in ruins, but still there was sufficient evidence to remind him of the loved ones with whom he had lived and spent his youth. He remembered his happy home as it used to be and when he looked at the ruins, he recalled the events of the massacre and fell unconscious.
There, for the first time, he suffered what later were diagnosed as epileptic convulsions. These fits came on with more frequency later, accompanied by the stench from the corpses, mental images of the massacres, emotional upheavals, nervous weakness, and fainting spells.
What did he see when he came to Erzinga? Out of 20,000 Armenians, three families were left, who were saved only because they had become Mohammedans, plus a few individuals scattered here and there.
Altogether, there were some twenty Armenian survivors.
Gentlemen of the jury, these are impressions that one can never forget. The defendant then remembered that his parents had hidden their hard earned savings. He began to search for whatever was left. Everything in their home was stolen or broken, but over 4,000 gold pieces were still there, buried. He took the money for himself and his family in the hope that one or more members would be found, and gave it to one of his relatives in Serbia for safekeeping. That relative is here; we had asked him to come to testify about the defendants family. However, we no longer need to interrogate him. After a month, the defendant went from Erzinga to Tiflis with the Russian Army, which was withdrawing to the border. There he again engaged in commerce and it was there that he bought his pistol, in 1918.
As was already mentioned, the defendant went back to Erzinga in 1917; that is, two years after the massacres. He remained in Tiflis until 1919. Then, the situation in Turkey having changed, he went to Salonika and from there to Serbia, not to see his relatives or for pleasure, but to find suitable work for himself. He then returned to Salonika and, in the early part of 1920, he went to Paris to learn French, as this was the official commercial language in Turkey. He remained in Paris for ten months and studied very diligently. He was able to read French papers and converse in French very well, considering the short period of time he had studied it. He then decided that a commercial career, with all the traveling, did not suit him and he felt it would be better if he were to go to Berlin and learn to become a machinist. He wanted to go directly from Paris to Berlin, but he was told that it was very difficult to obtain a visa. An elderly Armenian told him that it would be easier if he went to Geneva, where he had a home and by pretending to be a Swiss resident, he would be able to obtain a visa from the German Consulate to travel to Germany.
Tehlirian thus went to Geneva and from there to Berlin on an eight-day visa. The visa was extended in Berlin, as he was told it would be when he was in Geneva.
He had with him the address of the Armenian Consulate in Berlin as well as other addresses. It was recommended to him to stay at the Tiergarten Hotel, which he did for a few weeks. Tehlerian then visited his friend from Paris, Mr. Eftian, who is present here as a witness. He met Mr. Eftian's sister, Mrs. Terzibashian and her husband Mr. Terzibashian, the tobacconist. They looked for a room for the defendant and introduced him to Mr. Apelian who lived on Augsburgerstrasse. Apelian was happy to see that a countryman of his was renting a room in the same building and because the defendant did not speak German, Apelian assumed the responsibility of helping him. Mrs. Stellbaum, Mr. Apelian's landlady, rented a room to Tehlirian until the month of May. The defendant moved in and lived a normal life, like any young man.
He concentrated on studying German and eventually began to meet other Armenians. He seemed to be preoccupied and grieved; so his friends tried to amuse him and, at the same time, provide him with a suitable opportunity to learn German. The three of them then began to take dancing lessons. Tehlirian did not wish to meet any girls; on the contrary, you heard testimony about how naively and simply he spoke with women, apparently to practice German, even then showing a certain timidness.
Other than this, during his free time, he preoccupied himself with music. He played the mandolin and sang sad Armenian songs. In other words, there is no hint of his having had any other purpose than to improve his German in order to be able to pursue college-level studies. His teacher has already been cross-examined here. According to her, Tehlirian seemed to be an extremely diligent and somewhat timid young man. During the last few lessons, however, he began to lose control and could not concentrate on his studies. He had gone to Professor Cassirer, a psychiatrist, because he was having relapses of epileptic attacks. The professor had prescribed medication which had a soporific effect on him. Nevertheless, he continued his studies until February 26th, after which he studied on his own from a German book every morning. In short he steadfastly pursued his goal of obtaining a higher education in Germany.
It is interesting to note, as was stated by all witnesses, that he was extremely taciturn and reserved when it came to expressing his deepest personal sufferings. Whoever has suffered a really deep tragedy invariably does not talk about it with pleasure. Thus, Tehlirian hardly ever spoke about the tragedy to Apelian or Terzibashian. Whenever he was obliged to speak about it, as, for example, with Professor Cassirer, he would only touch upon the subject. He had also mentioned it another time to his teacher when they came across the word birthplace in a translation exercise, whereupon the defendant said, I no longer have a birthplace. My whole family was wiped out. As a rule, however, he would speak freely on the subject only to his one female friend, Mrs. Terzibashian, who had lived through the same horrors and fully understood him.
Thus you see a certain ever-present reserve. Once, when he saw Dr. Lepsius book in Apelian’s hands, he grabbed it from him, saying, Leave old wounds alone. Lets go out.
Gentlemen of the jury, you do not see before you a man who has tried to cling to the memory of those horrors. On the contrary, he has tried to escape them by speaking as little as possible about such matters. As a result, he has suffered, of course, twice as much internally.
During this period, an incident occurred which pierced the tranquility like a bolt of lightning. This was the defendants encounter with three Turkish-speaking individuals on Hardenbergstrasse. Two of them called the third, who was walking between them, Pasha. Tehlirian's attention was drawn to this individual; he looked at him more closely. He compared him to the picture he had seen of him and came to the conclusion that this must be Talaat Pasha. He saw one of the two other gentlemen enter the house at No. 4 Hardenbergstrasse with Talaat Pasha, while the third reverentially took leave of them. Tehlirian concluded that Talaat lived there. This happened in the middle of January of this year.
It is interesting to note that Tehlirian did flat speak to anyone about this incident. He did not want to become emotionally agitated and did not feel the need to speak to anyone on the subject. This encounter did not make him decide to kill Talaat. That is why he did not do anything further. The deep feelings he experienced then passed. He remained calm, and thoughts of vengeance did not occur to him.
He carried on as before until five to six weeks later, when he saw a dream, materially almost like a vision. His mothers corpse arose before him. He told her, I saw Talaat. His mother answered, You saw Talaat and you did not avenge your mothers, fathers, brothers, and sisters murders? You are no longer my son.
This is the moment when the defendant thought, "I have to do something. I want to be my mothers son again. She cannot turn me away when I go to be with her in heaven. I want her to clasp me to her bosom like before." As the doctors explained, the dream ended when he woke up.
It is quite evident that such visions play an altogether different role in the lives of spirited Easterners than they do in the lives of us Westerners, who look upon such things from a philosophical and medical point of view. I remind you of the passage from the Holy Bible which reads: "And the angel appeared to him in his dream." A similar apparition or corporeal vision is what had the decisive effect on Tehlirian. The very next morning he goes to work without mentioning a thing to his countryman Apelian. He finds the President of the Armenian Students' Association, who speaks fluent German, and with his help goes to Hardenbergstrasse deliberately, not, as the District Attorney put it, because he was "drawn like a magnet" — to rent a room from which he can keep an eye on Talaat. He finds such a room on the ground floor of 37 Hardenbergstrasse.
In this connection, we also have to consider his illness which necessitated his procuring a sunlit room with electricity rather than gas. Since the room at 37 Hardenbergstrasse satisfied all these conditions, he rented it on March 3rd, the day after he had the vision of his mother. But since the apartment would not be vacated until March 5th, the defendant was obliged to stay for the intervening two- to three-day period in his old room. Thus, after renting the new apartment, the defendant went to Apelian and told him, "Listen, on Saturday, I am moving to my new apartment." He sacrificed the one months rent which he had paid in advance for his old apartment. He made that sacrifice in order to obtain a new apartment. His thoughts were, "I have decided to kill Talaat, so I have to be near him." At that moment, the defendant wanted to kill Talaat.
Here I differ substantially from the District Attorney with regard to the following. You heard the Presiding Justice repeat a question to the defendant after the latter said something. The defendant did not understand the question the first time. Tehlirian replied, saying that after he had already moved into his new apartment, it occurred to him that he was a Christian — incidentally, the Armenians are among the earliest Christian peoples — and that there existed a commandment against killing. Having realized this, he became totally disinclined to commit a violent act and he abandoned the decision reached a little earlier. He then had the doubt which he described so eloquently: "When I felt ill and pictured the terrible massacres, I would resolve to kill Talaat. But when I felt better and was able to control my emotions, it was clear to me that I must not kill him." All the doctors agreed that there was nothing incredulous in what the defendant said. They said, "It was difficult to get anything out of this man." We, the three defense attorneys, can confirm that. When he is unable to say something with a clear conscience, he will not say it. It is very difficult to penetrate his inner self and obtain information, especially information favorable to him. Therefore, one should believe whatever he says.
There are, however, external circumstances which corroborate Tehlirian's testimony that when he moved into the new apartment, he no longer held to his original notion of killing Talaat. All the time he was there he did nothing in that direction. For example, he never asked the guard at which times Talaat used to leave the house. He did not even inquire if Talaat actually lived in the house. In short, Tehlirian continued to live and work at an ordinary pace — he improved his German, he played his musical instrument. The medication prescribed by Professor Cassirer had weakened him, so he was obliged to discontinue his classes. He called his instructress telling her that he hoped to resume his lessons within a few days. During that initial ten-day period, one cannot speak of any preparatory work against Talaat.
We now come to the day in question, March 5th. his landlady testified that, on the same morning, he drank his tea with a little more cognac than usual. The bottle of cognac had been purchased the day before. The amount in it on March 5th should be taken into consideration. The maid testified that one-fourth or one-third of the bottle had been drunk and not one-third of a liter. This, as was finally determined, is true. The testimony of the expert witness Dr. Störmer that the defendant had been drinking in order to get up courage is totally in error. He drank cognac with his tea because he had an upset stomach. He poured the cognac into a shot glass to measure the proper amount and then mixed it with his tea. He was only taking care of his health.
The idea that the defendant was drinking cognac at nine o'clock the same morning to get up courage does not stand up under scrutiny. Really, how could Tehlirian know that Talaat would appear on the balcony and then go into the street that morning, when he had not seen Talaat for the past ten days? How could he foresee that? No connection can be established here.
Well then, at eleven o'clock, Tehlirian saw Talaat standing in the sunlight on the balcony. He too opened his window. He walked back and forth across the room reading and translating from his German textbook. At that instant, seeing what appeared to be a happy man calmly enjoying the sun's rays on the balcony, the blood surely rushed to his head. But even then, Tehleryan rejected the notion of killing Talaat.
Talaat went back to his room from the balcony and, for all practical purposes, the matter was over for the day.
But then, all of a sudden, a quarter of an hour later, Talaat left his house. Tehlirian was standing at the window and saw him leave. All the horrors of the massacres came over him. He recalled his parents, rushed over to his trunk, took out his revolver, threw on his coat, grabbed his hat, rushed down to the street, darted toward Talaat, and fired.
As to whether he fired from the front or the back, that does not concern me.
Gentlemen, according to the District Attorney, all this proves premeditation. In my opinion, at that instant, an emotional storm overcame that man.
Subsequently, he did not throw away his revolver, as the District Attorney stated, like a man who does not want to look at all suspicious; rather, he let the revolver drop from his hand, like a man who says, Now I have paid my debt. Naturally, he fled to get away from the passersby but was quickly apprehended.
Five seconds after the incident, Tehlirian said, “This does not concern the Germans. He is a foreigner and I am a foreigner”. He repeated this. I am not inclined to find anything premeditated in this entire occurrence.
Gentlemen, this is the incident. This is what happened prior to the incident. This is the man. Now, I in turn shall give my legal opinion on the question, How is the act to be judged?
I want to put aside, for the time being, the principal question: "Is he responsible for his act or not?" Then naturally, I have to ask the next logical question: "Was the incident committed with premeditation?" Certainly there is no question that the act was committed knowingly.
Gentlemen, there is a point which the District Attorney did not sufficiently emphasize. Briefly, the wording used by the District Attorney — "He who willingly kills..." — is not correct. The proper legal question to ask is, "Did the defendant commit the homicide with premeditation?"
The highest court of this country — as the Presiding Justice will certainly tell you later on, when he gives instructions to the jury — has rendered a decision, discussed in the eighth volume, wherein it is very clearly pointed out that there is a distinct difference between our present law and its predecessor, Prussian Law. Under Prussian Law, the pertinent question was whether the decision to commit a crime came about as a result of deliberation.
Thus, under this prior law, when the decision to commit a crime was reached fourteen days before the crime was committed, then, without any qualification, it was considered a premeditated crime.
This is not the case today. In fact, the present law is exactly the opposite of the previous law. The highest court categorically considers the time of the commission of the crime to be decisive.
Therefore, it is not important to know when the decision to commit a crime was reached. To judge whether there was premeditation, all we have to weigh and determine is whether, at the time of the commission of the act, there was premeditation or whether the defendant was acting out of passion and under the influence of strong emotional and mental stress.
I do not want even to attempt to answer this. In my opinion, the answer lies in the very essence of the act. I do, however, want to emphasize that the highest court of this land has very explicitly explained the difference between deliberation and emotion (v. 42, p. 261).
Gentlemen, in all good conscience, I was obliged to discuss the matter of premeditation. Yet, I am opposed to the idea to a certain extent because we, the defense attorneys, shall ask you, with a clear conscience and strong conviction, to give a negative reply to the question: Is the defendant guilty of committing the act of homicide?
You know — and the Presiding Justice will tell you — that the first question starts with the following words: "Is he guilty of ...?" Separate questions wilt not be put to you as to whether he committed the act while deranged, etc. The emphasis is on the word "guilty". Your answer to the question of "guilt" will also be your answer to the question of whether the defendant was responsible for his actions at the time he committed the act.
We heard a whole series of opinions from the psychiatrists with regard to the question of responsibility.
The disruption in the normal functioning of ones emotions is discussed in the law in terms of the absence of free will. Really, gentlemen, it was extremely interesting to see how the psychiatrists developed their theories before our very eyes, with the noticeable exception of Dr. Störmer, the private consultant to the Court who, prior to coming to testify, had already come to a final conclusion and put it in writing. Apart from him, all the others were facing the question for the first time in Court and were even debating with themselves. You certainly must have had the same impression.
Dr. Störmer, our very experienced court doctor, but nevertheless not a psychiatrist, had come to the conclusion that what we had here was a case of simple physical epilepsy. He based his testimony on this Conviction.
You all know that epilepsy, to a limited degree, affects emotional stability. And yet Dr. Störmer asks the following question: Is this the type of epilepsy that affects emotional stability to the extent that free will is completely lost? His answer is as follows: "Free will is diminished but not completely lost."
Subsequently, Professor Liepmann expertly presented a different point of view; namely, that the epilepsy in this case is not physical. The epilepsy did not result in the malfunctioning of the central muscular system and was not a disease of individual nerves. Rather, it was the result of a strong psychic impression which caused the present condition similar to physical epilepsy.
To a certain extent, the impressions left on him by prior incidents, especially the one when he returned to his family's home, made the defendant physically ill. Professor Liepmann states that the defendant was, to an extent, enslaved by this image, his memories, and whatever emanated from those memories. He was further bound by the appearance of his mother and the instructions she gave him.
Professor Liepmann states that Tehlirian lived under constant pressure. He would feel sick whenever the mental images in his memory were revived and the stench of the corpses became real to him. In addition he was under great pressure, a very compelling force. He was an emotionally sick person with a minimal sense of responsibility.
But this elderly, cautious doctor comes to the conclusion that there was not a total lack of free will. At the least, he says, at the least, speaking for myself, I have to say that I cannot come to any other conclusion.
Therefore, as a doctor, he is obliged to take positive factors into account. He cannot say, I take into account extremely unlikely possibilities. He has to have positive medical proof on which to base his diagnosis. Thus, as a psychiatrist, he cannot come to any other conclusion. However, in a cautious manner he adds: On my part, I cannot conclude differently; however, there is only a hairs breadth separating the defendants condition from the total lack of free will.
Professor Cassirer, in essence, came to the same conclusion.
The remaining psychiatrists also rejected Dr. Störmer's view that in this case we are dealing with epilepsy, and that the epilepsy had an effect on the defendants emotional stability. They all came to the conclusion that emotion, emotional turbulence, was the root cause of his condition.
Professor Cassirer spoke about a "delusive distortion of reality." He pointed out that every time the defendant feels sick, he relives his memories with increasing intensity; he concluded that, as a result, there is a basic factor of illness which comes close to bringing Article 51 in play (this is the article which speaks about a total lack of free will). The difference between the provisions of the article and what is medically diagnosed in the defendant's case is minimal from a psychiatrist's point of view. Professor Cassirer then added that, as a psychiatrist, he did not want to say anything more than that, because then he would be overstepping the bounds of his profession and entering into the realm of a judge or, in this case, that of the jury.
In answering a question put to him by my colleague Werthauer, Professor Cassirer stated, "I cannot give a medical answer to that." He added, "Generally speaking, one can only guess as to the condition of the defendant at the time of the commission of the crime."
We now come to the younger generation and this is interesting, psychologically speaking. Professor Forster, an eminent psychiatrist, begins by agreeing with the opinions expressed by Professor Liepmann and Professor Cassirer. But later, as a result of experiences during the war and bearing in mind the emotional illnesses caused by the war and similar phenomena, Professor Forster expresses skepticism. As was known to me previously, he belongs to that group of physicians who find it difficult to accept the application of Article 51. "In this case a very serious illness has played its role," he states. "For a psychiatrist it is very difficult to answer these last few questions because, as scientists, we psychiatrists generally cannot admit to the existence of free will," he adds.
But it is precisely here that a slight variation in the meaning of words plays a very important role. It is a difficult matter when the question of free will is raised and an affirmative or negative answer must be given. Please pay attention particularly to these last words. I will soon reflect on them.
We then heard Dr. Haake, an expert in muscular diseases, who had examined the defendant on February 4, 1921. He was generally in agreement with the diagnosis of the three previous psychiatrists. However, in his concluding statement he stated, "I go further still. This is a case of someone who was overcome by an emotional seizure and the homicide was committed under pressure of his mental images. I find that he was not at all responsible for his actions."
The District Attorney, indeed, has clearly admitted that what I have described to you above, in terms of the testimony of the expert witnesses, is absolutely correct.
As I have already mentioned - and as you can see for yourselves - the younger generation (even though Professor Forster is already 42 years old) is willing to go a step further while the older generation is more cautious. "It is a very difficult matter. We are all frightened to say more than we are in a position to say as responsible physicians. Nevertheless, we do not want to be cut-and-dry either. There can be doubts." The older psychiatrists also say this.
With this in mind, the whole responsibility falls on your shoulders and rightfully so. Gentlemen, I can generally state to you that the role of expert medical witnesses and, for that matter, of all expert witnesses, is only to provide assistance to the judge. They help us come to a decision but it is the judge who has the last word.
Nevertheless, we have progressed another step. Another High Court, the Military Tribunal, has rendered two very interesting decisions concerning this matter. In the fourteenth volume of their decisions, the following is stated:
With reference to Article 51 of the Penal Code, the role of medical expert witnesses ends when they have presented and analyzed their opinions as far as they concern mental illness. It is not for them to decide whether, because of the mental illness, there is a lack of free will or, which amounts to the same thing, whether the defendant is responsible for his actions and should or should not be convicted. The decision on this matter is the sole responsibility of the court.
A decision in the same vein can be found in the seventeenth volume, which states:
The medical expert witnesses will make investigations to find out whether the mental condition of the defendant at the time of the commission of the act was disturbed or not. Whether or not the defendant was responsible for his actions is a legal question and it is for the judge to decide. But really we do not have to come to any such decisions because, as I have already mentioned, you are basically free to make up your own minds. Even where mental illness is concerned, we are not at all bound by the opinion of the expert witnesses.
On the question of free will, which is an issue in this case, we have a new twist, in that the expert medical witnesses cannot provide us with an answer. Professor Forster pointed out that medical science generally does not recognize the existence of free will.
The question of free will, as is well known, is one of those which has been debated the most, not only by philosophers but by theologians as well. Naturally our penal code does not admit any reference to this matter, concerning which it is impossible to conduct any experiments. The concept of free will is accepted as a fundamental principle of that code based upon the observation of practical everyday life. The law makes the assumption — and it must do so for the stability of society — that a mature and mentally sound individual should have enough will power to resist the impulse to commit an act that is punishable according to our jurisprudence and that he should act according to a general concept of right and wrong.
I now turn to the matter I had referred to earlier and asked you to bear in mind. Professor Forster, having given his personal opinion and having gone farther than the others, said, In any event, there is the existing of essential doubt. I strongly emphasize that the highest court in our nation has stated in numerous decisions what is self-explanatory, that the issue can never be presented as follows: Might there possibly have been such a disturbance inhibiting the free exercise of will power? Rather, one should come to an affirmative answer from the opposite direction; namely, that the individual is completely responsible for his actions.
Even the slightest doubt as to whether free will really existed at the time of the commission of the homicide should be sufficient to justify a verdict of not guilty. If the reasons for the verdict were demanded, it would not be sufficient to make the negative assertion that circumstances had not been brought out that would cast doubt on the existence of free will. Thus, it would be absolutely necessary to prove the opposite; namely, This man was responsible for his actions.
It would seem to me, gentlemen, that the Highest Court has given us direction concerning another essential issue as well: When is there lack of free will? Such direction has been given very clearly, more precisely than the physicians have indicated, since the medical profession does not generally recognize the existence of free will.
I quote, word for word, one of the decisions of the Highest Court: "There is lack of free will when, as a result of derangement from illness, certain afterimages or sensations of foreign influences prevail upon the free will so strongly that a rational, prudent decision becomes impossible to make. Therefore, only when the totality of mental forces, the entire ego, is the author of the decision to commit an act is it possible to find the ego responsible for the act, in terms of that totality."
Again, "Where a compulsive precept is the totally dominant force on an individual such that it is solely responsible for the act, while other influences remain in the background, then it is not the whole ego that is directing the action but a diseased portion of it."
Assuming that you agree with this point of view, tell me, can you categorically insist that the defendant, the moment he saw Talaat leave the house and the moment he made his decision, took the revolver from the trunk, darted out to the street, and attacked him, can you insist that at that moment he was perfectly capable of controlling his psychic drives to render a decision, or was it merely images of his deceased mother and the memories of his persecuted people churning in his mind that were responsible for putting the revolver in his hand? I consider it out of the question to categorically insist on the opposite view.
The physicians leave you in a difficult situation. They leave you with the responsibility of giving an answer. Two of the physicians stated: "No, it is not possible to state precisely that he was responsible for his act."
I believe what I have stated is sufficient for you to decide the path you have to follow, faced with this infinitely difficult problem.
Ordinarily, I know that it is possible to state the following: Here we have a regrettable and tragic incident; an individual is a guest in our country, Germany, and lo and behold, he is killed.
In the present times, there is fighting going on in every corner of the world. The fighting between the Turks and the Armenians continues to this day, with blood flowing everywhere. The District Attorney has already mentioned this point. Under these circumstances, it is easier to accept the act that took place in Germany.
Every person should be of the conviction that during Talaat’s government a sea of blood was spilled, that of at least ore million Armenians — children, women, the elderly, healthy and brave males. If, on Hardenbergstrasse, one more drop of blood was added, we have to console ourselves by saying that it is our destiny to live in these awesome times.
I am far from making a final judgment on the man — Talaat. I have already stated what was possible to state objectively. However, I do want to add one other thing. Certainly, Talaat, like his friends, yearned for the extermination of the Armenian people in order to establish a solely Turkish Empire. Of course, in order to achieve this end, he used means which seem intolerable to us Europeans. Perhaps it is unfair to say that in Asia where human life has a lesser value, such atrocities are comprehensible.
Is it not, after all, in Asia that we find representatives of different world views and where, first and foremost, the Buddhists, with special love, spare human and even animal life? But, nevertheless, I would personally not hold Talaat responsible, because I have to take into account a higher point of view. This is a theory expounded by two prominent Frenchmen, Gustave Lebon and Henri Barbusse, on the atrocities of the World War.
The theory is as follows: Behind the individual perpetrators are certain spirits or demons which push them on. They implement concepts which might be just or unjust as well as mass impulses which move people around as if they were pawns. Those perpetrators feel that they are taking these actions according to their own volition but, in reality, they are doing so under pressure.
No matter how extreme the action might be, as is the case here, we must not be narrow-minded and place the responsibility on one unfortunate individual.
A really horrible fate has befallen us and a small part of that fate is the incident that took place on Hardenbergstrasse. But it would be far more atrocious if a German court worsened that fate by using our calm and deliberate judicial process against this man who has already been subjected to unparalleled sufferings.
It is my hope, gentlemen of the jury, that his concept will be deeply implanted in your hearts, to help you come to the infinitely difficult decision, which is now left to your conscience.
Our job as defense attorneys is a modest one, that of a midwife, to help you in the formulation of your decision.
Defense Attorney Johannes Werthauer (privy legal counselor, Berlin).
Gentlemen of the jury, you will be given instructions wherein you will find the question pertaining to the homicide. Will your answer be "Yes" or "No"? That is the point to be decided on here.
Since I am confident that your answer to the question of premeditation will be in the negative, I consider it unnecessary to speak further on this. Thus I shall only address the question pertaining to the homicide.
The way the question is worded provides the basis for a negative answer. The question does not ask whether or not the defendant killed Talaat Pasha; rather, it asks whether the defendant is guilty of killing Talaat Pasha. This difference is paramount; when you retire to the jury chamber and when you return from there, that should be apparent in your answer. The difference should be foremost in your mind during each stage of your deliberation. That corresponds with German law.
The German law pertaining to this particular point is an old law. It was formulated more than fifty years ago, but it is still good law. If any criticism is made of criminal trials in Germany, it is not a criticism of the law which, in itself, is good, but of its application.
I do not think there is any need to change that law and, in my opinion, the changes the District Attorney mentioned will not improve the application of our laws in the final analysis. The present law is adequate if everyone will just perform his duty.
There is a general consensus that the defendant will be set free. The difficulty is that some of you might think as follows: the defendant has killed someone; does not the law demand that he be sentenced for his act? We are judges of German law. We have sworn to see to it that justice prevails. Therefore, according to the law, we must not set murderers free.
I will tell you that such a conclusion would be wrong and I say that from the point of view of the law itself.
According to our German law, the defendant has to be set free. This is the consensus and, incidentally, this is what the law demands in this case. It remains for me to explain this to you in simple terms.
The defense has no intention of obtaining an unfair decision and thus tarnishing German justice, of which you, as well as we, are representatives.
The whole world is watching us, and the decision that you wilt render will be such that perhaps thousands of years from now it will still be regarded as a wise and just decision.
Therefore, even the function of the defense counsel has to give way before the responsibility to humanity, which is not to confuse you so that you can render a just decision.
But when you have an inner conviction that the defendant should be set free and when the lawyer is here to tell you that this feeling is in complete compliance with even the strictest interpretation of the law, then I as defense attorney have the obligation to explain these things to you in order to eliminate the apparent difficulties before you.
I already mentioned that the jury instructions ask: "Is the defendant guilty?", and I repeat that involved in the word "guilty" is a whole set of circumstances that run the whole gamut of the penal code.
Our penal code has both general and specific sections. The latter pertain to types of crimes: homicide, fraud, larceny, etc. An article in this section states: "He who intentionally kills a human being ... is to be found guilty of homicide." But there is a general provision of the law which occurs before the specific section dealing with separate crimes and which applies to all items in the specific section; therefore it is not repeated each time.
The second article of that general section states that no one can be punished for a crime when no punishment has previously been designated for such a crime. The punishment for designated separate offenses appears in both the general and the specific sections. The general section contains only a few articles essential to our purposes today and, as you have already learned from the discussions, they constitute the separate and debatable points which are subject to your consideration.
Article 51 of the general section specifies that, under certain circumstances, there is no punishable action, even if an individual has committed one or another of the offenses enumerated under the specific section of the law, such as larceny, murder, etc. That is the article that pertains to the mental condition of the author of the crime.
Two articles later occurs another article that explains imperative self-defense. Imperative self-defense we understand to mean defending oneself against an attack. However, the third paragraph of that article goes on to explain that, even if there is an absence of the circumstances for imperative self-defense, yet because of the experiences of terror and panic suffered by the defendant, he might have crossed into the realm delimited by the concept of self-defense. Under these circumstances, he should also be set free.
Later on, I will come back to these two articles, as they are the only ones which will bear directly on your decision.
As was already pointed out, the first sentence of Article 51 states that no punishable crime has been committed if the author of an act was in an unconscious state during its commission, or, as the second sentence of the same article adds, if he committed the act at a time of mental turmoil. Therefore, in the same article we have two different concepts fused — a serious loss of consciousness and impairment of ones mental capacity. Certainly, there are instances when both factors are present. That is probable in our case. What I mean to say is that the two factors mentioned in Article 51 are so clearly evident in the present case that the defendant can justifiably be set free not just on one, but on two grounds.
As was already mentioned, doubts can arise concerning such matters. To the question: Has an incident really taken place which is already in the past and which no one personally saw or experienced? Each of you can give an affirmative or a negative answer. But the answer could also be the following: "I do not know."
For example, if one asked whether such and such had ever been invented, one could answer: "Yes, I am certain of it." Another could emphatically state: "There is no such thing." A third may, in turn, confess: "I do not know. I am not interested in that sort of thing." The very same could apply in our case. We should always keep in mind that jurisprudence is not witchcraft, but rather the application of mans rational mind. To go beyond this real boundary is to embark on the wrong path.
The simpler and clearer our approach to the case, the easier it will be to come to a decision. This young man's act took place on March 15, 1921. Does Article 51 come into play in this case? Was there a lack of consciousness or was there an impairment of his mental faculties at the time?
The defendant has already testified. So have the witnesses. The expert witnesses have already expressed their opinions. You have heard everything of significance that pertains to this case. You now have to make your decision.
It is possible that you will say: "The defendant was totally sane." It is also possible that some of you might say: "He was not sane. His mind was deranged." But it is also possible that some of you may conclude: "We do not know. That remains doubtful in our mind."
A decision of our High Court concerning a similar case was already cited here. The High Court, of course, renders correct as well as incorrect decisions. But if one of its decisions is correct in its essence, then it would be possible to include that decision here not because the High Court is an authority — generally speaking, in the realm of law there are no other authorities beyond the authority of that which is right. However, if a decision rendered by the High Court is correct and if our rational human judgment tells us that it is so and that the decision is objectively correct, then we can utilize such a decision as a basic condition, without any qualms.
The decision of the High Court is as follows:
If the absence of responsibility has definitely been accepted as a foundation that would abrogate any punishment, then, according to Article 266 of our Code of Penal Proceedings, it would not be sufficient to make a determination that the act was done intentionally, without giving an explicative argument. Thus it would be essential to determine that none of the conditions specified in Article 51 applied to the author of the act. It is not enough to determine that the litigation has not provided us with any basis to admit a condition of irresponsibility. On the contrary, however, it has to be positively determined that the author of the crime, during the commission of the act, did not fall under the categories of Article 51. Therefore it would be necessary to establish positively that the disturbing influence did not exist at the time the crime was committed. But if there is any doubt whatsoever that such influences might have existed, then the defendant must be set free.
That is the direction given to us by the High Court, to which no serious challenges have been made as of yet, because the decision is truly in accordance with sound human judgment.
Therefore, on the basis of this litigation, if you should have no doubts that on March 15, 1921 at 11:00 o'clock, when the defendant fired the bullet he was totally in possession of his free will — that he did not lack free will as a result of impairment of his consciousness or deranged mental capacity — then you will have to say: "We do not have any doubts." But if you should have any doubts at all on that score, then you have to set the defendant free.
If there are some among you who feel "It is absolutely certain that the defendant must not have been in complete control of his mental capacity" and if others among you feel "We have doubts whether or not he was in control of his essential mental capacity", then you are both of the same mind and that will be sufficient to have the defendant acquitted.
An affirmative answer can be given only by those of you who have no difficulty in stating: "We declare that, at the time of the commission of the act he was in complete control of his mental capacity, as stated in Article 51. His free will was in no way interfered with, either by serious impairment to his mental capacity or because he was in an unconscious state."
With your permission and in order to facilitate your decision-making process, I would like to fill certain gaps in the expert medical witnesses testimony.
It is important to analyze the psychological feelings of Tehlirian at the instant he fired the shot. It is also important, for a few minutes, to explain to you the very essence of this action, motivated psychologically by external factors and committed physically by the given person. In other words, in reality, at what point did unconsciousness and impairment to his mental capacity set in?
The expert medical witnesses should have explained to you that, according to the theory prevailing at present, the activities depending on the will stem from the impressions that are present in ones head. These impressions are transmitted from the cerebrum via paths to the spinal marrow, which commands the arm to rise, the eye to see and focus, and the hand to squeeze. This is the normal function of the brain. But if the normal functioning of the will is disturbed as a result of any unhealthy phenomenon, or if consciousness ceases in the cerebrum for an instant, then, under these circumstances, free will no longer exists. Unconsciousness and derangement of the mental capacity have eliminated free will.
Even though my colleague von Gordon has already read it to you, I would like again to cite an important passage:
According to Article 51, free will is understood to be the ability of man to organize his will in a new, singular and perfectly distinct manner, concisely and finally, on the basis of various motives constituting the progress of the will and the forms of impressions or feelings that oppose or assist that progress. In other words, a "decision" which is the expression of the authority or reign of ones entire personality with regard to the particular aspect of progress of the spirit. That capacity must not be simply limited or diminished, but totally missing, because it is not possible to subject separate emotions, accentuated by means of feeling and impressions, to the authority of the whole and make them the general will of the Ego without difficulty. Self-determination is tacking in the absence of the capacity to concentrate all the energies of the spirit so as to embrace separate motives and to mold them creatively into a singular volition with a new content. Nevertheless, a decision of the will is not made simply by virtue of the fact that the Ego governs the different motives and unites them; rather one or another of the motives becomes dominant and a decision is produced which controls the Ego. The technique of shaping the will here is, of course, the same as it is in the process of self-determination except for one difference, i.e., no longer is the Ego, as the total of all the mental abilities, in control nor does it determine the will. Rather, one of the separate elements of the will constitutes the deciding factor. Free will is lacking if, as a result of pathological impairment, certain impressions or feelings exert such strong control over the will that a free, rational determination of the will becomes impossible. Only if the entirety of mental abilities, the whole Ego, is the maker of the decision, is it possible to attribute the act stemming from that decision to the Ego.
With this quotation, I have revived one of the most difficult legal and medical issues. However, I am convinced that it is possible to go over this issue in such a way that anyone with a healthy judgment will understand and agree with the reasoning involved.
You saw that our jurisprudence is entirely in accord with the finding that if, in the cortex or in the central nervous system, there is some part which has become diseased or there are senseless alien images in the cortex which adversely influence the normal process of the operation of the will power, then that individual no longer can exercise his free will. In that case, there are pressing images which, to a certain extent, absolve the accused of responsibility for his actions.
After these legal explanations, you will be able, quite straightforwardly, to make an assessment of the present case.
Let me add something that has been so often repeated that its part of our daily language: "He is having dizzy spells". What this means is that, at a particular moment, an individuals free consciousness is disturbed. In that condition, a man will do something which he would not otherwise.
Allow me to remind you of another decision of our High Court. A man with a contrary disposition goes to church. The priest gives a sermon which runs counter to the convictions of the individual. He listens more and more intently and finally he becomes irritated to the point where, unable to control himself any longer, he shouts out, "Be quiet! What you are saying is a lie." That individual is taken to court for having disrupted the sermon. However, he is set free because, as a result of what the priest was saying, his consciousness had been disturbed and the blood had gushed to his brain in such a way that at that particular moment he was no longer in control of his wilt power.
Now, all that has been stated during the trial concerning the defendant can be reduced to a few essential points. It can serve as the fulcrum for your decision as to whether he was in control of his free will on March 15th at 11:00 o'clock.
The disagreement among the expert witnesses does not concern you, because your decision must be based on your own conclusions and not those of the various physicians.
If you wish to make an objective judgment on the disposition of the defendant's will and his inner feelings at the time of the act, then you should consider the fact that he belongs to a Southern race. The Southern races, as is evident, are more easily excitable than the unemotional ones of the North. Besides that, you should also take into consideration what the District Attorney has already mentioned, that Armenia has a bloody history.
It is well known that wherever the Turks have set foot, they have carried a bloody flag with them. In 1683 the Turks even reached the gates of Vienna. If they had come to Germany, there would not be much left in this country either. There is a history of bloodshed among these Southern peoples, not only in the case of the Turks but also in that of the Armenians.
Then you heard that the defendant had suffered from typhoid. You know that if someone has contracted typhoid or malaria, often such a person cannot be considered normal for several years.
We also heard that the defendant drank more cognac than was customary for him on account of a stomach ailment or for some other reason. Consequently, in this regard too, his mental balance was not completely normal.
Objectively it can be added, as was stated in this courtroom, that at the time of the incident the Armenians and the Turks were in an officially declared state of war. Whenever these two nations encountered one another, they confronted each other as enemies and, to a certain degree, looked upon it as their right to treat each other as warring parties. When the defendant said, "He is a foreigner. I am a foreigner. This does not concern Germany", he should have merely added the following: "We are in a state of war with one another."
You also heard that a sentence of death had been brought against Talaat. A decision of a court is either recognized or not recognized. If we do not wish to recognize a decision of another court, then we can not demand that other courts recognize our decisions. The decision of the death penalty for Talaat was rendered by a court-martial. I am personally opposed to military tribunals and court-martials. It is my personal feeling that if a proper court is convened, then it is no longer necessary to have special courts set up. Nevertheless, wherever we have military tribunals and court-martials, we undoubtedly also have honest judges who render just decisions. I do not have the slightest doubt that those high-level and educated judges, who meticulously examined and tried the criminals of Constantinople, rendered just decisions.
Moreover, it is certainly inexcusable to state that the decision was rendered under pressure from British warships. I have never heard of British judges being influenced in such a manner. One can speak either for or against the British, but we must not forget that British justice has served as an example to be followed for all time and in numerous countries. Therefore, it would be erroneous to state that the court-martial in Constantinople rendered its decision under pressure from British warships.
It would be more correct to examine the basis of that decision. It would then be quite evident that, as one of the witnesses here proved, the charge concerning the massacre of the Armenians and the four other charges were brought forth and, on the basis of these five points, the defendants were convicted and given the death penalty.
One of these defendants was in Constantinople at the time of the trial. He was apprehended and executed. I am as opposed to the death penalty as I am opposed to murder. And I do not believe the problem of murder wilt be solved as long as we have the death penalty. I am of the general opinion that killing should not be permitted under any circumstances.
Subsequent to that trial, Talaat was forced to escape and hide under an assumed name so that the death penalty handed down against him would not be executed.
I have no doubt as to the justness of the decision. That decision holds Talaat responsible for his misdeeds. But that decision also has an effect on the Armenians. Even a reasonable Armenian will say to himself: "This man has been condemned to death. Therefore, he is the author of the crime and deserves the death penalty."
Then, we also have to consider the concept of self-defense. Those individuals, Enver and Talaat, lived in Germany under assumed names. It was stated in this court that they were the "guests" of Germany. I shall categorically reject that statement. I do not believe that the German government would allow such criminals who have fled from and abandoned their country to be "guests", to hide here under assumed names.
Is it not true that one of those individuals just recently fled from Germany too? According to the papers, Enver has again gone to Russia to forge new projects with the Bolsheviks, one of whose aims is to wage war against the Armenians and annihilate them. If Talaat, as he of course wished, had followed Enver, most probably new atrocities would be committed against the Armenians within a few weeks.
If an individual, as a liberator of his people, kills a man who engages in dangerous and criminal activity against that people, certainly this is how he would reflect on it: "This man is an enemy to the Armenian people. If he leaves Germany and, like Enver, joins the Bolsheviks, our women and children shall be massacred again." In this sense, we find that the concept of imperative self-defense is relevant to the defendants act. Though unacceptable in terms of our jurisprudence, nevertheless the concept of imperative self-defense exists here in the broad sense of the word. In any event, the defendant certainly felt fear upon confronting Talaat again.
Having explained this objectively, let us now examine the testimony of the expert witnesses. You heard the debate among the expert witnesses on the question of epilepsy. The expert witnesses are assistants to the judge; they should state only that which, based on their expertise, can aid in the pursuit of justice.
If, as a result of the collapse of a house, an individual is killed, it could be said that the architect was responsible for the death of the individual. But I would never leave it up to the expert to determine whether the architect was responsible for the individuals death. That is not his job. He can only say whether the house was constructed property or improperly. After all, other factors could be responsible for the collapse of the house. Similarly, the expert medical witnesses cannot say whether or not Article 51 is applicable in this case, because it is the psychologist who must answer the question of unconsciousness at the time of the killing and not the expert medical witness.
The job of the physician is to explain the causes of disease and not its influence on the individual. When the matter concerns illness, I have to ask the physician and then he can tell me all that he knows of his field. However, he does not have the right to interfere in the realm of the jurist. Does Article 51 come into play in this case? This is a question which, in my opinion, does not concern the expert medical witness at all.
I have to confess that, for practical reasons, we, the defense attorneys, often ask the physicians during judicial proceedings whether their opinion pertains only to the defendants illness or to the influence that the illness has had on his will as well. In this connection, they are often asked whether or not Article 51 is applicable.
I personally would never ask the latter question. If the Minister of Justice, upon assuming his new post, were to ask me what would be his first act, I would reply: "Prohibit the practice of asking medical experts whether or not Article 51 must or can be applied in a particular case and forbid the medical expert to answer that question." The responsibility of the physician, given his abundant store of medical knowledge, is to examine and describe, in the minutest detail, the physical condition of the individual. He has nothing to say about the question we are deciding here.
You heard the expert medical witnesses, with the exception of Dr. Störmer, state that they do not readily discuss that question because physicians have different views about will, its limitation, etc., than lawyers. Nevertheless, each of them did give an answer to the question without taking any responsibility for the judicial answer. Some of them answered no to the question; others, yes. Only the first witness positively stated that it was impossible to apply Article 51. I do not wish to demean Dr. Störmer. I have a great deal of respect and admiration for him. But his opinion is not practical, as I am sure you also noted.
Dr. Störmer's diagnosis of epilepsy was wrong. He diagnosed a physical epilepsy, while all the other physicians and, I think, all of us, do not doubt that the defendant suffered from psychological epilepsy. The first expert witness did not completely research the causes of psychological epilepsy and, as a result, made an inaccurate diagnosis. I accept that his opinion was carefully and exactly thought out, but that does not stop me from saying that it is incorrect. One can present a detailed analysis but arrive at a very wrong conclusion, while another can give the right diagnosis on the basis of a half-hour examination.
Dr. Störmer's colleagues explained why his opinion was incorrect, doing so in a most proper fashion. These expert witnesses tell us that the defendant suffered from psychological epilepsy; that is as a result of psychological disturbances, he suffered physically from epileptic attacks.
It was already stressed quite precisely that we do not know whether the defendant suffered from an epileptic attack the night before the killing or even that very morning. Such attacks can come and go without the patient knowing whether he has had an attack, and it is only after the attack that the patient feels weakened or some such thing. In answer to my question "Can you state whether or not the defendant suffered an attack the night before the incident?" Dr. Störmer answered plainly, "No, I cannot determine that. The defendant did not say whether he had an attack. I do not know if he had one or not, but it is possible, of course, that he could have."
Therefore, what one of the associate justices wished to add to the medical testimony is extremely important; namely, that such attacks can take place without the defendant being aware of them. In that case, the mental reaction to such an attack can last for a long time, for days even. Therefore, it is not essential that such an attack have taken place right before the killing, the night before, or the very morning of the incident.
We heard about an actor who experienced epileptic attacks. One day he just did not go to the theater; he left town and disappeared, and no one knew where he had gone. He was in a condition to buy a train ticket, travel somewhere, and go to a hotel, yet did not know what was transpiring on account of his epileptic state. He lacked a whole set of mental and psychic prerequisites for having such knowledge, obviously because of serious impairment of his consciousness.
The Associate Justice asked Dr. Störmer: "Do you know perhaps if an epileptic attack took place prior to the killing or not?" That question contains the most essential point of the case. And when Dr. Störmer responded by saying, "No, I do not know", he had fully stated his opinion as far as I am concerned.
The other expert witnesses looked at the problem in a much broader tight, not any more diligently but, rather, scientifically.
In any case, you know that the defendant had received a serious blow on the head, and that on the morning of the killing, because he was not feeling well, he drank cognac.
According to the physicians, the defendant was suffering from psychological epilepsy and had experienced nervous breakdowns. Such esoteric explanations, in themselves, cannot impress anyone, but what the physicians wish to convey by them is intrinsically correct.
The expert witnesses explained that during the 1915 massacre, which claimed his family among its victims, the defendant regained consciousness after receiving the blow to the head and smelled the stench of the corpses. Later on, whenever he remembered those incidents, he always smelled the same stench. This, according to the physicians, was a sign that the defendant was suffering from inner turmoil, so that whenever the scenes of the massacre were revived in his memory, he no longer had control over himself.
If I am in complete control of myself, I do not get the sensation of smelling a corpse by smelling an inkstand. But if I know that the ink stand was used to kill an individual and if, when smelting the inkstand, I think I am really smelling a corpse, then I am no longer in control over my free will.
As you know, there are such things as "attacks of dizzy spells" and there are individuals who feel that they are prone to having "dizzy spells". When they climb a mountain, they have to hold on to something, even though they are in no actual danger of falling. In the same sense, there are certain fantasies which cannot be repelled. For example, a person looks out a window and constantly thinks he has to jump out. In that case, it is best for him to close the window and get away from it. Who can really say that the individual, if he is psychologically disturbed, will not jump? Psychological impulses cannot be resisted. The expert witnesses nicely explained this to us; we can take their word for it.
Now, each one of you is asking himself: "What happened in the psyche of the defendant? What constraining images took possession of him?" The defendant himself gave the best explanation — seeing Talaat. When the defendant came to Berlin, he was not thinking of killing Talaat. He was not thinking of Talaat even after he had stayed here for a month. But then, one day, as he was crossing Hardenbergstrasse, he saw three Turks and noticed how one of them bowed to the other and called him "Pasha". Comparing the man in front of him with pictures he had seen in newspapers, he recognized that the "Pasha" was Talaat. At that instant, Talaat became for him what is called a "red flag".
He saw the same man the morning of the incident. Talaat came to the street. What images were crossing the defendants mind as he picked up the revolver, went down to the street, and fired the bullet? These were surely linked with the person of Talaat.
It was not my intention to bring politics into this courtroom, but I have to point out that it was the District Attorney who broached the subject by saying certain things about Talaat. If the District Attorney had refrained from doing so, then I would not feel obligated to give my own opinion of Talaat.
It was mentioned that this was a killing of an "ally" of Germany. That is not correct. Talaat and his Committee were the allies of our previous Prussian-German military government. The Young Turks have never been the allies of the German people. However, because it was stated in this courtroom that Talaat was the ally of Germany, I cannot let the opportunity pass and, indeed, feel it is my personal obligation to stress that those Young Turks were never the allies of the German people.
It is true they overthrew the old Turkish government and were in control of the government for some ten years, at the cost of untold human lives. It is also true that the previous German government had allied itself with them. But the German government had also allied itself with Lenin and Trotsky and had helped them cross over from Germany to Russia to start a revolution. That same government had asked Haze if he knew of a few revolutionaries or anarchists in our country whom it would be possible to instigate to bring about a revolution. But to say that Talaat was an ally of the German people is totally unacceptable to me under any circumstances.
It is possible that Talaat, as an individual, was a decent fellow. But he was a member of a militarist cabinet. A militarist is a person who is opposed to justice. The militarist is not an individual who is a member of the military by calling. It is possible to be an officer or a soldier, wear a uniform, use weapons and, at the same time, not be a militarist. The officer or soldier himself can uphold the principles of right and justice and perform his duties as a member of the military at the same time. On the other hand, there are countless militarists who have never put on a uniform. They sit at a desk, write articles, and fiercely defend the flag of brute force. The militarist is a man who believes in brute force, not a man who believes in justice. The latter places justice above everything else in the world. If he is a believer, right after God comes justice and next in line for him is man. If he is not a religious person, then man, as a saint, takes first priority in his eyes.
The militarist thinks differently. He is a man who believes in force and justice has meaning for him only to the extent that it is possible to "accommodate" it, as expressed in the common phrase, "to military exigencies".
You will find militarists all over the world. They are not unique to any one nation or country. They form a caste, a united and homogenous class, consisting of those who believe in the right of force, as opposed to the ranks who believe in justice.
At the present, we ourselves are also suffering frightfully from the militarists who are bound to a decided influence across the Rhine. Who knows how much we will endure at the hands of these people who believe in the use of force? We too have had our share of militarists. We sent certain persons to Turkey to give the Turks military training, which we had no business doing. We saw militarists in Russia and now it is the Bolsheviks, the real militarists, who are running the government.
We find militarists everywhere. They look like human beings. They have brains, but the part of their brain that represents justice is missing. Just as there are well-trained animals that wilt never be able to have human feelings, so too there are militarists who stand ready to oppose all nations. They believe in war and force. It is these believers in brute force, and not the Turkish people, who annihilated the Armenians.
The order to deport a whole nation is the most monstrous act the militarist mind could conceive. If, as was emphasized in this courtroom, the Committee of Young Turks believed that the regular gendarmes were at the front fighting and that only the irregulars were left as gendarmes, then it had no right whatsoever to give the order for the mass deportation. And if, nevertheless, the Committee gave the order and entrusted the task of deportation to such persons, then it is responsible for the consequences. I would put the matter the other way around. Certainly the gendarmes were guilty of the crimes they committed on the roads, but they were not as guilty as the man sitting in Constantinople who charged such untrustworthy persons with the responsibility of carrying out the deportation.
I believe in the idea that the private individual never has the choice of deciding whether he wants to go to war or not. Once war has been declared, that individual is obliged to go to war whether he likes it or not. When the fortunes of war turn against his people and he is taken prisoner, the enemy must bear in mind that it is not the prisoner who brought about the war; rather he has acted as the representative of his people according to his obligation. Every prisoner is a saint because he is a representative of his people who has been forced to go to war in defense of his home and his fatherland and now, because of the misfortunes of war, has been taken prisoner.
He who swears at a prisoner or raises a hand against him, in my opinion, no longer has a place in the society of decent human beings. In each prisoner I respect the representative of his people, who has been fighting for his fatherland and has had the misfortune of becoming a prisoner. The government of Constantinople should have borne this in mind.
Even if the Armenians had allied themselves with another country and even if a misguided leader of the Armenians had joined the Russians and thus committed treason, nevertheless the Young Turks knew that there were thousands of innocent women and children who knew nothing of such occurrences. Furthermore, the first condition of the order for the mass deportation should have been rigorous arrangement for the care of women, children, and those men who had nothing to do with their leaders.
If I were not generally opposed to capital punishment, I would consider the death penalty fair under any circumstances for the individual who, for military exigencies, gives an order without shouldering the responsibilities for its repercussions on the innocent . I consider it simply nonsensical when, outside this courtroom, it is said that the reason for the deportation was that the Armenians had become allies of the Russians and that military exigencies required such action.
If you look at a map of the Caucasus and the Ararat region, you will see vast expanses larger than Germany. An unfortunate people has lived there for over 2,000 years. South of it, on one side, stretches a vast fertile plain which has always excited the appetite of conquering nations and, on the other side, is a horrid desert. Above that area are the mountain passes which have always been under the control of others. Whoever has control over these mountain passes also has control over the whole region. The Armenian peasants who living in this area have been booty for those invading from either the east or west.
For over 500 years, Armenia has been divided into three segments. One race after the other has dashed across Armenia. The same races that laid waste to Asia proper and Hungary and advanced as far as the Rhine River — marauders like Attila, who continue to live in our childhood memories — also invaded Armenia in a most horrid manner to annihilate its people.
It was a population consisting largely of artisans and farmers that the Young Turk government attacked. When we speak of the Young Turk, we mean the old Turk; the latter means one who believes in brute force, a militarist.
The reasons for the Armenian massacres were not only religious, but political as well. We have already heard testimony concerning the political motivations. On August 1, 1914, when the World War broke out, the members of the Young Turk Committee thought they could now settle their accounts with the Armenians, since none of the Great Powers could help them any longer. We heard from Dr. Lepsius how, on prior occasions, one or the other of the Great Powers had always helped the Armenians. International treaties had been concluded to improve the lot of the Armenians and guarantee their rights so as to allow them to become a full-fledged nation. But, lo and behold, the World War broke out and the Young Turks had an opportunity to solve the Armenian problem once and for all. But this was not the only motivation for the massacre. We heard testimony concerning two Armenian families who, having been spared from deportation and massacre, remained in Erzinga and had to convert to Mohammedanism to stay alive. This indirectly provides the answer to a question from one of the jurors. There was also religious hatred and fanaticism. They wanted to massacre the Christians, they wanted to have only Moslem Armenians left because they hoped that, according to the teachings of the Koran, it would facilitate the implementation of the old Turkish concept of the use of brute force.
The old Ottoman Empire, with all its conquests, rested on the concept of military power and this concept is irreconcilable with the teachings of the Old and New Testament and probably even with the correct interpretation of the Koran. Above all, in terms of its content, it is irreconcilable with the principle of "love thy neighbor as thyself".
Thus, the Young Turks took advantage of the opportunity to annihilate the only Christian people living within the Empire, close to one of its distant borders. They did not dare do this to the Armenians in Constantinople. However, they did it to those in the interior by means of orders sent to the governors of those provinces. We have, right here in our hands, the copies of the orders the Young Turks gave to wipe out the Armenian nation. They further gave orders that those governors who were friendly to the Armenians were to be sent elsewhere and, if that was not effective, were to be dismissed from office.
Thus, we have before us the killing of an entire nation, the responsibility for which falls on the Committee of the Young Turks and particularly on their most influential minister, Talaat Pasha.
At 11:00 o'clock on March 15, 1921, the defendant was weighing the numerous atrocities suffered by his people for more than a thousand years. The defendant was well acquainted with the story of his people. In addition, in 1915, he was personally involved in persecutions in which all the Armenians of his city were massacred a half hours distance beyond the city limits. The shocking experience of this massacre had had a significant influence on the defendants inner self. All that he had experienced appeared before his eyes on the morning of March 15th.
Think of the story of William Tell. Gessler makes fun of and jeers at the people. He erects the sign of slavery. He forces Tell to shoot an arrow at an apple placed on his sons head. The project is of the same type as the one executed by the old Turks, those who believe in force. What passes through William Tells mind passes through Tehlirian's as well. Of all the juries in the world, which one would have condemned Tell if he had shot his arrow at Gessler? I ask you, is there a more humanitarian act than that which has been described in this courtroom?
Tehlirian is the avenger of his people, of the one million Armenians who were killed. He is the one who is standing up to the author of those massacres; he is facing the man who was responsible for the annihilation of his people. Is this not an irresistible impulse? Do we need the image of his mother in order to have medically acceptable coercive images? Now we do have that image as well. The defendant is also the representative of his family, his mother. His mother tells him: "You are no longer my son."
All these impressions fill the defendants head as he picks up the revolver and descends to the street. He descends as the representative of justice versus brute force. He descends as the representative of humanity versus inhumanity, of justice versus injustice. He steps forward as the representative of the oppressed against the collective representative of the oppressors; for the one million killed against the one who, along with others, is to blame for those crimes. He stands as the representative of his parents, his sisters, his brothers, his brother-in-law, and, finally, as the representative of his sisters two-and-a-half year old child.
The Armenian nation, from thousands of years ago down to its youngest child, stands behind Tehlirian.
Tehlirian carries with him in his thoughts the flag of justice, the flag of humanity, and the flag of vengeance to uphold the honor of his sisters and relatives. With all these thoughts in mind he confronts the one person who violated his family's honor, destroyed the well-being and happiness of millions of people, and physically annihilated a whole nation. The defendant became a psychologically disturbed person. You, gentlemen of the jury, have to decide what went on in his mind at the time of the killing and whether he was in control of his will.
Gentlemen, I am firmly convinced that, even before I uttered a word, you had already come to the conclusion: "It has not been proven that he was in control of his will." If my humble words have added anything, it is to give the legal basis so that you would know how to judge this case juridically.
Please observe, gentlemen, that humanity is attentively awaiting your decision. Simply decide the following: "He is not guilty. The rest does not concern us."
Defense Attorney Kurt Niemeyer (privy legal counselor and professor at Joel University Law School).
Gentlemen of the jury, there is just one question which we must answer, because it is the one and only question facing us. That question is as follows: Is Soghomon Tehlirian guilty of having committed murder? Must he be beheaded to pay for the incident of March 15th? Each of you personally has to solve two problems.
First, you have to reconstruct what is real in itself, corresponding as much as possible to the truth, and that has to be done in terms of the provisions of our Penal Code. Second, you have to calculate what meaning your judicial activity has. The latter is of two kinds.
The Penal Code consists of many articles other than the few mentioned previously. The articles are composed of paragraphs. The paragraphs are composed of sentences; the sentences, of phrases; the phrases, of words; and the words, of syllables. Before and after each article and within it are an endless multitude of things which we call "legal strings".
There is no perception or interpretation of judicial codes or articles of laws which logically cannot be defended. If the issue were merely that, then I would not have the honor of being here, I would not have the confidence of my colleagues and of the friends of the defendant who are relying on me to defend Soghomon Tehlirian.
My duty is to explain, as a teacher, the essence of a jury trial. It is the purpose of the law to recognize interrelationships between and impart living meaning to dead articles. For the most part, we can do that in a way that corresponds to the philosophy of life, the philosophy of government, the philosophy of the community, and the universal well-being of mankind.
Trial by jury is one of the oldest methods of trial. The Germans, the Romans, and the British started their judicial systems with the jury trial. The Roman judge and the German "Schoffe" were jurors, ordinary men without any expertise in the law. The lawyer was only the administrator of the trial.
Even though correct understanding of the logic underlying strict, definite, two-edged legal concepts and articles is necessary for technique, interpretation, preparation, and instruction, it cannot be the final and definitive factor in the pursuit of justice. This is the raison d'etre of a jury trial — to look at both sides of a question. That is, on the one hand, to evaluate the essence of the incident through ones own free contemplative powers, independently of the rules of formal proof; and, on the other hand, to evaluate the meaning of the disposition of the law.
Now I shall speak briefly about individual technical matters and only to the extent I consider absolutely necessary. I shall speak on the relationship of the act. I shall not address the question of whether the act was premeditated or not. I shall not speak about extenuating circumstances. I shall say next to nothing about a pardon which would correct the injustice we could commit here. I have no doubt in my mind that, at the instant the incident took place — this is the only object of concern — no deliberation occurred even if before that minute deliberations had taken place.
In my opinion, the question of whether the defendant is capable of giving an accounting of himself has already been touched on. I say this for two reasons. One is that the medical expert witnesses, especially Dr. Störmer, who spoke the most unfavorably concerning the defendant, categorically stated: "As to his psychological state at the time of the commission of the act, that I do not know. No one can know that." Professor Cassirer stated the same. If no one knows that, then no one should decide the matter as he would if he did know.
The second reason is that the defendant committed his act without any play. It would have been so much more understandable if the defendant had pursued Talaat longer. He might have found better opportunities to kill Talaat than the one which presented itself to him on Hardenbergstrasse. However, I do not want to get into any more details on this. In my opinion, it has already been established that, at that instant, there was no premeditation and that the defendant was not in control of his free will.
I will put the greatest emphasis on the following article of the law, on which you will base your decision: He who intentionally and with premeditation kills a human being will be punishable by death.
Assume for a moment that you answer the question in the affirmative. Assume that Tehlirian's head fell under the executioner's axe and finally assume that, under different circumstances, someone filed a lawsuit against the executioner for having killed with premeditation. After all the article says: "He who intentionally and with premeditation kills a human being will be punishable by death."
Gentlemen of the jury, you must find the executioner guilty of the crime, stating in your decision, "Yes, he is responsible for the death". Forty years ago there was a professor of law, here in Berlin, who seriously insisted that this is what the law required.
There is, however, a small matter that has to be taken into consideration. Our Penal Code does not state categorically, in many of the articles, that punishability is dependent on illegality and the cognizance of illegality.
Add the word illegal to the aforementioned article so that it reads: "He who illegally and intentionally..." Now we have the correct wording of the article. There is perfect agreement that, in order for an act to be punishable, it has to be an illegal act. Furthermore, there has to be cognizance of illegality. That the defendant acted objectively, not according to the law but contrary to it — and therefore illegally — may seem indubitable at first glance; yet it is not indubitable.
Indeed, when the incident took place, the Turks and the Armenians were at war, and the two nations, from the standpoint of international law, were enemies. Therefore, is it not beyond a doubt that Article 4 of the German Constitution should be taken into consideration in this instance? According to that article, the basic canons of international justice constitute part of German law. Those basic canons of international law pertaining only to particular governments can likewise count among the basic, generally-recognized canons of international law. However, I do not need to dwelt on this at length. What can be discussed in this case are the factors limiting the defendants cognizance of illegality — factors conditioned by his nationality.
The people of the East have a different approach than we do to the question of the legality or illegality of an action. In delving into Tehlirian's soul, particularly to determine cognizance of illegality, we would have to understand that, for the Eastern peoples, including the Armenians (even though the latter have been Christians since roughly 300 AD), law, religion, and morals are one and the same.
Each Turkish sect has a different religion. The Persian Shiites have a Shiite system of justice because, for them, only the Koran is valid without the Sunna tradition (just like the Protestants, who feel that only the New Testament is valid without the Old). The Haneffi Turks accept the Koran as well as the Sunna. Hence, their concept of law is different because they have a different creed, a different religion.
This is also true of the Eastern Christians. Religion — and this is both cause and effect of the essence of the present case — has become for them truth and reality of life in a much different sense than what we find in Europe.
Islam is much more strongly and practically a quality of life; it is much more truth and reality than Christianity has ever been anywhere, at any time, with the exception of those segregated religious communities in which religion and life are one and the same thing.
The Armenians are a particularly religious people. Their rites, their firm reliance on religion, even to their daily customs are to a certain extent similar to the Islamic washing and daily prayers. The Armenians live entirely by religious directives, and I cannot refrain from saying that there are some nasty anecdotes about the Armenians which are circulated around like cheap money and have given the Armenians a bad reputation. For example, "One Greek can sell three Jews. One Armenian can sell three Greeks" and other similar comments exist.
There is a Persian anecdote (the Persians know the Armenians the best) which says, "Get your bread from a Kurd but sleep in an Armenian home". What this means is that the Persian, being a Muslim, cannot take bread from a Christian Armenian so he takes it from his coreligionist, the Kurd. But he will not accept the hospitality of his coreligionists because the Armenian will not steal. Security of ownership and scrupulous respect for the possessions of others are nowhere else as evident as among the Armenians.
In reply to the question of the Presiding Justice as to whether or not he felt guilty, the defendant said, "No". When he was asked "Why don't you feel guilty?", the defendant answered, "My conscience is clear." For the defendant, judicial and moral right are one and the same. He cannot even think that what could be morally right might be judicially wrong. He cannot conceive that what is morally correct can make him eligible for the death penalty.
I am thoroughly convinced, and I think all of you should be too, that the "clear conscience" that the defendant unquestionably has, despite his admission that he committed the act, protects him from all the consequences. Judicially, this clear conscience means the rock-firm knowledge that he has acted in the right, in no way contrary to the "true", "real" right, which is the only thing that has value for him.
The defendant's psychological make-up, the major impact the massacres had upon him, and then the complete devastation that they wrought on his psyche — this inner self of his — are closely related to the close family ties that exist among Armenians.
The Armenian family relationship is a particularly warm one. The defendants uncles son, who came yesterday and was going to be interrogated today, unfortunately cannot testify about that. But you do not need to doubt it; the expert witnesses here can attest to the fact that the Armenians have a wholesome family life. I am sure you remember the defendants expression when he replied to a question put to him as to whether or not his relationship with his parents and his family was good. I do not know. You may or may not remember a characteristic jolt that showed up on his face. The interpreter did not say any more. I believe that expression indicated, in a frightfully sad way, the special relationship he had with his martyred family.
With this we come to the relationship of the defendant to his people who, for him, are a continuation of his family. The Armenians are a large family. They were a great power. Subsequently, within the Turkish Empire, they have always been a large and patient family. When nationalities began separating from the Empire — in 1820 the Greeks became independent with the help of all the European nations; in 1840 the Egyptians; later the principalities of the Danube; the Bulgarians, the Rumanians; the Serbs; the Black Mountain people, and the Albanians — the Armenians remained quiet and patient. The Sublime Porte could not and did not have any complaint with regard to them. And because the Armenians were such a law-abiding and constructive element, they were given a National Constitution as early as 1860, which was quite significant in terms of the coincidence of religion, politics, and nationality in the East. When the Balkan nations were everywhere breaking their chains, the Armenians remained patient because they hoped that reforms would be carried out later on their behalf: their property and security would be guaranteed and they would be granted a degree of self-rule. Thus, they remained quiet and peaceful.
The situation changed only after the Berlin Conference of 1878, when alt the other nationalities received something and the partition of European Turkey was already a reality. Turkey began to grow apprehensive that the Armenians, being the only nationality left within its borders, would turn out to be a danger to the security of Turkey.
Without any provocation from the Armenians, the Turkish government organized the first horrid persecutions and massacres. The Armenians had given them no reason. It was after these massacres that the Armenians began to organize. They established Committees in Paris and Geneva in order to bring about reforms that were promised them in Article 61 of the Treaty of Berlin.
Then it all began. I do not want to pursue the course of events in great detail. In 1899 I was in Constantinople on two occasions and I was terribly shaken up at what I heard from eyewitnesses about the massacres that had taken place in August 1896. When, on March 16th, I read of the incident that took place on Hardenbergstrasse, three different images came to mind and, for a long time, I was unable to erase those impressions. I had seen none of these scenes with my own eyes, but they were right before me as if I had witnessed those scenes myself.
On August 26, 1896, when the Armenians had prepared a plan for revolt about which the Turkish police had informed the government, Sultan Abdul Hamid did nothing to quench the revolt, which would have been a very easy thing to do. On the contrary, he was glad to hear of such a revolt. The government organized goon squads which received orders to kill all the Armenians they found in the streets starting at noon on August 26. German women and children described the killings to me. The most typical scene was that of the goon squads — bare-chested, wearing their loose trousers, and accompanied by a police officer — attacking the Armenians. The latter fell on their knees, extended their hands hopefully to heaven with their heads bowed and allowed them to kill. Ninety percent of those killed received head wounds.
The second picture is related to the way Talaat Pasha came to power in 1909. Talaat and a few of his political friends had come to see the Grand Vizir, who was waiting for them. With his hands in his pockets and a lighted cigarette dangling from his mouth, the Sultan looked at Talaat and said, "What is this you are doing? You know of course that we do not like it." At that instant, there was the sound of a shot, and the one who wanted to get rid of Talaat fell dead with a bullet wound in his neck.
We come now to the third scene, which took place on March 15, 1921. We all know about the incident. We can be opposed to it, but this is not like an ordinary trial. It takes us beyond the confines of this courtroom and obliges us to widen our horizons. Try to understand other nationalities, other peoples, other circumstances, and be fair to them.
We of the Third District Court and this jury are obliged to maintain a broad view of this case and to render a well thought out decision which will be recognized for its justice and humanitarian quality. With this in mind, I do not believe you will condemn Soghomon Tehlirian to death. If you condemn him to death, we know what will happen. He will declare steadfastly with a clear conscience and noble conviction: "If this is what you want, I am ready to die." He will put his martyred head on the scaffold, his mother will appear to him and aid him, and he will have an enviable death. One might even wish him such a death. If he were to be set free, that would not revive his parents, his sisters, and his brothers. It would not make him well again; he will never be normal like other people.
In conclusion, I would like to repeat the words of Defense Attorney von Gordon. You cannot hold Tehlirian responsible for his actions. He did what he had to do. He did that which he could not avoid doing. Whether the compulsion that drove Tehlirian should be called a diabolic or a moral force, whether it emerged out of a healthy or diseased mind, is a matter which you will have to determine.
When you take all factors into consideration, it will be essential for you to consider the interrelation between the various aspects of the case presented in this courtroom and to ask yourself the following questions: What will be the result of my decision? What will be its consequences, not from a political or other such point of view, but with respect to supreme justice or to charity, which is what we live for and which makes life worth living?
District Attorney Gollnick
Gentlemen of the jury, there was one thing the defense attorneys did not tell you; namely, that the judge is obliged to render a judgment according to the provisions of the law. The judge has to come forth with a well reasoned decision. He simply has to verify that the judgment complies with the law and that the punishment is justified according to the rule of law. The judge cannot say, "Yes, the judgment complies with the law, but I do not want... the penalty." He cannot say that because the law is supreme. Certainly it is possible to have a case about which an individual can say, "The law is not all encompassing. There is a rigidity in it that is hidden."
I am in complete agreement with the first defense attorney that, at the time of the killing, there must have been deliberation. It is also true that a killing, no matter how carefully planned out, no matter with what deliberation and premeditation, cannot be considered premeditated if, at the time of the killing, it was not done with deliberation.
In light of the opinions expressed by the expert witnesses, I also agree that the defendant was quite possibly suffering from a disease which affected his psychological equilibrium, and seeing the supposed author of his misfortunes severely agitated him. If you are of this opinion, then you have to give an affirmative answer regarding the unpremeditated nature of the killing.
The second defense attorney told you a number of things. I am in agreement with some of them, but not with all. Of course, you are acquainted with the great poet Heinrich Heine. At every opportunity, Heine would revolt against certain principles inimical to life which he ascribed to the Christian dogmas. In contrast, he praised Greek Hedonism. Now one of the poets famous critics said that as Heine grew older and more radical he began to divide the world into two groups: the lean Nazarenes and the fat Greeks.
I could not help thinking about this comparison when I was listening to the remarks of the second defense attorney about militarists and militarism. It would seem that the second defense attorney divides all of humanity into militarists, from whose brains a devil had removed those portions containing justice, compassion, and humanity and the rest of the human race, which still retains all these qualities.
In my opinion, this analysis is indeed somewhat radical and very one-sided and artificial; diversity of life does not allow for such a cut-and-dry division. In any event, I will permit the defense attorney to maintain his view on this point; however, I must resolutely oppose him on another point.
He did not like it when I labeled the deceased the faithful ally of the German people. I have to repeat that the Turkish people fought side-by-side with the German people and that they unquestionably can be classified as an ally of the Germans. I do not think it is honorable to deny the past after a certain point, whatever ones political leanings. I have to object in the strongest terms to the defense attorneys classifying the two representatives of this Turkish policy, Talaat Pasha and Enver Pasha, as criminals who abandoned their fatherland.
I am happy, however, to state that I agree with the defense attorney on another point; namely, that what is essential in our jurisprudence is sound human judgment. It is my hope, gentlemen of the jury and I have no doubt that, in spite of the bewildering array of scientific, technical, legal, and medical testimony that was presented to you, this consideration has remained uppermost in your minds. As long as you put sound human judgment above all else, you will be able to discover the truth.
Defense Attorney von Gordon
Gentlemen of the jury, just a few words. The District Attorney has reproved us for not having told you one thing; namely, that the judge has to pass sentence in accordance with the law. Certainly, gentlemen of the jury, I would be ashamed to state that which is totally self-explanatory.
(Commotion in the courtroom)
Then the District Attorney stated that the punishment to be rendered, which is the death penalty in this case, should not be named. That point of view is absolutely false. Given that our laws demand the death penalty for certain types of crimes, it is essential that you look to see what type of a crime is committed so that the punishment will correspond to the crime. What the District Attorney has said would be a misapplication of the law, already rejected by our Supreme Court in time of war.
Prior to the war, the Supreme Court reassessed thousands of concepts relating to penal and civil law and, in the light of this reassessment, revised the Penal Code with great care. The advent of the war forced these laws to be set aside. Again the Supreme Court had to analyze these ideas and, in the process, it forged some new concepts. I can read for you a decision wherein our Supreme Court, with bold sincerity, admits that previously even it had viewed various concepts in narrower terms and that even it had learned quite a lot from environmental circumstances, historical events, and life in general.
You too, gentlemen of the jury, have to be constantly aware that you cannot render a decision which is intellectually honest but contrary to your conscience, because it is not possible for us that injustice be justice. No conceptual game must ever produce a result, a decision which all sound thinking people feel is objectively unjust.
Now let us go on to a third matter which the District Attorney touched upon. I will leave the essence of this argument to my distinguished colleague; I merely wish to present briefly my point of view regarding it.
You, the District Attorney, spoke of bow we should not deny the past and should remember how the Turkish forces fought side-by-side with us. I am in complete agreement with you on this point. However the Turkish people are not guilty for the atrocious massacres; they too condemned them as any rightful-thinking person would.
The systematic extermination of the Armenians was not owing to a zealous outburst on the part of the Turkish people. On the contrary, it was a carefully deliberated and carefully planned political-administrative decision of the ruling circles which was carried out by rogues, that is to say, the Turkish gendarmes, of whom a sufficiently revealing portrait was presented in this courtroom.
The Turkish people are above all that and we shall faithfully remember what they were to us and what we were to them in the most difficult of times. But, that is not the issue before us.
Defense Attorney Werthauer
According to Article 190 of the Penal Code, when information disseminated about an individual concerns his punishable act, the truth of the statements or rumors is considered verified if the culprit has been officially condemned for the action. And, on the contrary, the truth is not considered verified if the targeted individual had been set free before the rumors about him began to circulate.
On June 10, 1335 (according to the Turkish calendar), a Court-martial, made up of the most distinguished judges, condemned Talaat Pasha and Enver Pasha, along with Jemal and Nazim, as the authors of an ignoble crime; namely, the extermination of the Armenians and the punishing of the innocent. This verdict is legal. And it is incorrect and contrary to German jurisprudence to say that I am guilty of slander identifying these persons as criminals. In fact, they have been legally condemned for having committed the basest of crimes.
Thus, to make such reproachful remarks to me indicates a lack of knowledge of our German jurisprudence.
These criminals have abandoned their country. They have lived here under assumed names. I do not know whether they enjoyed the protection of one or another militarist government. I cannot say anything at all on the matter because, contrary to what the District Attorney said, I do not want to inject politics into this case.
Subsequently, the District Attorney stated that the Turkish people stood beside the German people as loyal allies. This is true and no one has stated anything to the contrary. The Turks are also brave soldiers. The Turkish people, however, are not to be blamed for the war any more than the German people are to be blamed for it.
According to the treaties between the Germans and the Turks, the peoples of these countries had no say whatsoever in the declaration of war, which was fought without regard to the peoples wilt. The people only had a duty to perform.
Individuals like Talaat Pasha, Enver Pasha, and others are the issue here not because of the declaration of war, but because they implemented a deportation, which resulted in the commission of crimes against the Armenians, the likes of which cannot be found in human history.
Gentlemen of the jury, I have already told you that, as a result of the ignominious massacres, your decision may be remembered thousands of years from now.
I am personally unable to comprehend how politics can be mingled into this case. All politics stop when we are faced with the basest of human crimes, and I fail to understand how anyone can utter a word in support of the orders for the deportation. After all, the German people also are being unjustly accused of having issued similar deportation orders. Only an outright and categorical denial of these principles, an unreserved condemnation of such criminal orders, can secure us the respect which, in my opinion, we rightly deserve.
I was not stating something new when I said that militarists, those men who believe in brute force, who certainly should not be confused with individuals in the military, can be found in every nation on earth. I am amazed that the District Attorney finds anything new in my comments.
Those who suffer from the vicious acts of militarists, as the German people have suffered, will agree that the sole responsibility for such acts ties with the militarists. And those who hate the militarists and wish to uproot them from our society are acting justly. However, we are not talking about annihilating or uprooting people, rather it is the direction, the principles, and the concepts of the militarists that concern us here.
Human beings, created in the image of God, are holy; the militarists, devoted to brute force, use these individuals to commit cruel and brutal actions. The militarists are not part of the people. They do not have any country, they do not belong to any nation, and they do not have any human feelings. They only understand brute force and the ultimate aim of their use of force is to suppress justice.
We saw this force come into play in the case before you, in which proponents of the opposing views met face to face. On the one hand, there was the representative of brute force, and, on the other, the representative of the oppressed who sought justice.
Gentlemen of the jury, this is the picture I wanted you to have before your eyes. Indeed, when the representative of justice found himself face to face with the representative of brute force, the former lost control of himself and no longer knew what he was doing. The Court has to render a just verdict. The defendant deserves justice. As we, the defense attorneys, have mentioned, we are neither begging for mercy nor asking for an emotional judgment; rather, we want what the Penal Code prescribes for the act the defendant committed.
Under the present circumstances, the Penal Code prescribes a negative answer to the question that is presented to you, because at the instant the defendant descended to the street and pointed his revolver at the victim, he was not guilty. And he was not guilty because his will was not free and sound; rather, it was under a certain influence.
As I have already told you, it was not the defendant who descended to the street but the centuries and the millions who were killed. It is indeed possible to state that the defendant was carrying the banner of the honor of his entire people, the banner of the tortured innocent victims, and the banner of his massacred family.
How often you are forced to pass judgment on a husband who, upon returning home, finds his wife committing adultery and kills her! Who would even imagine condemning such a man?
But the defendants case does not regard marital infidelity. His sisters were raped, his brothers and family were killed, his whole family was exterminated. The defendant raised the banner against the one criminal guilty of all those vile crimes, a man who was caught in the act and condemned. The defendant saw the murderer, lost control of his rational mind, took aim, pulled the trigger, and another human life, unfortunately, was taken.
This is what you have to examine carefully, bearing in mind the medical testimony, bearing in mind the requirement of justice, but, above all, bearing in mind that a well thought-out decision is expected of you.
We, the defense attorneys, have only one wish and, on this point, I think we can come to an agreement with the District Attorney. Let your feelings be your guide without any reservation, making sure that the justice you render is based on our jurisprudence. With that in mind, we all yield to your best judgment, whether your decision be in the negative or the affirmative. There is one danger which I want to point out. We would not want you to think that because a human being has been killed, the defendant has to be found guilty. If you were to come to such a conclusion, you would be disregarding the whole general section of the Penal Code, which has been constructed, indeed, with perfect fairness.
The example of Heinrich Heine, which the District Attorney mentioned, does not affect me at all, primarily, I guess, because the District Attorney is a better poet than I.
(Commotion in the courtroom)
The policies of our government, the government that signed the treaty with Talaat Pasha and Enver Pasha, do not concern me either because, prior to the signing of that treaty, no one asked for my opinion and, for that matter, no one asked for the opinion of the German people. All this belongs to the past.
The one thing that would affect me is if you were to confuse right and wrong. For example, if you were to ask, "Did the defendant kill...?" rather than the question which the law requires, "Is the defendant guilty of killing...?" After all, what the District Attorney wants is for you to answer the former question, while what we want is for you to answer the latter question.
We would respectfully urge that you follow our request rather than that of the District Attorney.
Defense Attorney Niemeyer
I want to draw your attention to and touch on the political aspects of this case, which the District Attorney already alluded to.
Our Presiding Justice indicated on the first day of the trial that this case should not be treated differently from any other case. Thus, this case should not be analyzed differently from any other case. In other words, this should not be looked upon as a political trial.
I hope that you bear witness to the fact that the defense attorneys have tried to do everything within their power not to turn this into a political trial. I use the word political trial in its common vulgar sense. If we had behaved differently, the course of events would have been different. But this would not have served justice and would not have corresponded to the essence of German life.
If you only knew the type of evidence that we could have brought to this trial, you would have commended us for our restraint. However, I am obliged to make a comment in response to what the District Attorney said.
During the war, German military and other establishments, both in this country and beyond its borders, passed over in silence and then tried to cover up the atrocities committed against the Armenians. This was done in such a manner as to imply that our German government actually condoned these atrocities.
Certainly, up to a point, individual Germans tried to put an end to the atrocities, but to the Turks the implications were clear. They thought, It is impossible for these events to take place without the consent of the Germans. After all, we are their allies and they are so much stronger than us.
Therefore, in the East and all over the world, we Germans have been held responsible with the Turks for the crimes committed against the Armenians. There is a wealth of literature in the United States, Great Britain, and France whose purpose is to show that the Germans were really the Talaat's in Turkey.
If a German court were to find Soghomon Tehlirian not guilty, this would put an end to the misconception that the world has of us. The world would welcome such a decision as one serving the highest principles of justice.
PRESIDING JUSTICE (to the interpreter) — Indicate to the defendant that his three defense attorneys have asked that he be set free. Ask the defendant if he has anything to say on his own behalf.
DEFENDANT — I did not understand what the defense attorneys said. But I am convinced that whatever they have said suffices. I have nothing to add.
Instructions to Jury
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Gentlemen of the jury, it is now left to me to instruct you with the essential judicial counsel, and I would like to perform that duty of mine with a few short comments. It is the essence of our Penal Code that a normal person is in possession of his free will. Article 51 states that there is no punishable crime if the author of an act, at the time of commission of the act, was in an unconscious state, or if his mental capacity was temporarily impaired, depriving him of free will.
Free will exists when an individual is capable of logically using his mental faculties to regulate his actions, his instincts, his abilities, his inner drives. If such a capability is impaired or is absent, then there is a lack of free will. The law thus requires that you confirm the existence of a condition in which the formation of free will has not only been made difficult but, in fact, has been rendered impossible.
Therefore, you have to ask yourselves whether the defendants epilepsy and the other factors mentioned in the testimony of the expert medical witnesses created circumstances that deprived the defendant of the full use of his mental faculties when, on March 15, 1921, he committed the homicide.
If you are convinced that a significant portion of his consciousness or certain segments of his mental capacity were impaired to the extent that he was no longer able to formulate his free will, then you are obliged, under Article 51, to reject penal-legal accountability and set him free.
This is the first matter that you have to examine, since the question that is put to you starts with the words, "Is the defendant guilty?"
If you find that the circumstances were such that he was not responsible for the consequences of his acts, or if you find that the psychological turmoil he suffered did not mitigate total responsibility for the act, but that these events were such that they diminished his mental capacity, then you have the responsibility to continue your deliberations to find out whether or not there is evidence of an intentional act.
It is not essential for me to speak at length on this point.
You have to ask yourself whether or not the defendant wanted to kill Talaat Pasha. Did the defendant know that he was killing a human being? The fact that he committed the act is unimportant. If you find that the defendant wanted to kill and that he knew what he was doing, then you have to find him guilty, that is, of course, if you do not consider Article 51 to be decisive.
Deliberation, which obliges you to give an affirmative answer to the question of premeditated killing, is not the same thing as an intentional killing. Premeditation has a broader meaning. Subsequently, you have to be convinced that, at the instant of the homicide when the bullet reached the victim, the defendant was performing the act with deliberation. You can come to this conclusion if you can tell yourself, He was not suffering from internal turmoil. He was still able to weigh the pros and cons. But if you accept that internal turmoil existed, eliminating the possibility of calm deliberation, then you have to give a negative answer to the question of premeditation.
There is another matter that has been raised in this case, and that is that the defendant was not cognizant of the illegality of his act. Gentlemen of the jury, in my opinion, you do not have to deal with that question. The awareness of the illegality of an act is one of the essential ingredients of an intentional killing. That has nothing to do with the concept of the intentionality of the act. What you have to examine is whether or not the defendant knew that he was killing an individual and that he wanted to kill him.
I now draw your attention to the fact that the death penalty is applicable only to a premeditated killing, whereas, in the case of an unpremeditated killing with mitigating circumstances, the minimum penalty is six months imprisonment.
I ask you to go to work and decide the answers to the questions that have been presented to you.
You have to choose from among you a foreman who will be responsible for your orderly deliberation and voting.
You know, of course, that the law requires a two-thirds majority for a "Guilty" decision. The law also requires that the decision be declared in the following manner: "Yes, with more than seven votes". Therefore, at least eight of you have to vote "Yes" in the present case in order to find that there was legal-penal accountability and that Article 51 is inapplicable.
If you give an affirmative answer to the question of intentionality, then you have to answer, "Yes, with more than seven votes." You have to give the same answer to the question of deliberation, saying, "Yes, with more than seven votes."
If you find that there are mitigating circumstances, then the law only requires a simply majority vote, and it would suffice for you to answer, "Yes, with more than six votes" or simply "Yes".
I now affix my signature to the question sheet.
The members of the jury then retire to deliberate.
After an hour's deliberation, the members of the jury return and the foreman of the jury declares:
I avow with honor and clear conscience to the verdict of the jury: Is the defendant, Soghomon Tehlirian, guilty of having intentionally killed a man, Talaat Pasha, on March 15, 1921, in Charlottenburg?
Signed: Otto Reinecke, Foreman of the jury.
(There is a great deal of commotion and applause in the courtroom)
PRESIDING JUSTICE — I now sign the verdict and I ask the clerk to do the same and read the verdict out loud.
(The secretary reads the verdict and it is translated for the defendant)
PRESIDING JUSTICE — Therefore, the following sentence is issued: "The defendant is acquitted at the expense of the state treasury. (Renewed commotion and applause) In accordance with the decision of the jury, the defendant is not guilty of the punishable act with which he has been charged."
Then the following decision is announced: "The order of imprisonment as regards the defendant is hereby annulled."
(The defendant is congratulated by his defense attorneys, his compatriots, and the public in attendance.)