Living The Worthy Life: Beware of The Ides Of March: 100 Years March 15, 1921
The Roman general and statesman Julius Caesar was assassinated by conspiring senators, notably including Marcus Brutus, on March 15 in 44 B.C. Caesar became a dictator after causing a civil war. His rule and murder effectively ended the Roman republic—and changed the course of history.
Shakespeare dramatized the assassination (and its aftermath) of Julius Caesar in his eponymous tragedy. Early in the play, dated to around 1599, a soothsayer warns (the character in his play) Caesar to “Beware the ides of March.” On this fateful day as he was stabbed (famously 23 times), Shakespeare has the dying dictator say, in Latin, as he recognizes his one-time friend Brutus among the assassins: Et tu, Brute? “You, too Brutus?
Caesar probably never said these words. Nor was Shakespeare the first to make them up, though he certainly helped immortalize them, and the Ides of March, in culture.
This is what you know. Now for the rest of the story, something that you may not know.
There was another famous murder that took place on March 15. March 15, 1921, or exactly one hundred years ago. This murder changed the course of history and it deserves to be much more well known.
On this date (March 15, 1921) at 10:45 in the morning, Soghomon Tehlirian, A 24-year-old student and Armenian revolutionary assassinated Talaat Pasha. He murdered this man in front of his house on the outskirts of Berlin, Germany. Talaat was the former Minister of Interior, and later the Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire. Under his direction and with his approval, the Ottoman Empire began the systematic collection, deportation, and extermination of Armenian Christians in the country. Beginning with the arrests of many of the leading Armenian intellectuals on April 24, 1915, Talaat orchestrated the genocide of the Armenian Christian (Armenian Orthodox and Armenian Catholic) population. By the end, the Ottoman Empire somewhere in the neighborhood of 1.5 to 2 million Armenians were killed.
By the end of World War I, the Ottoman Empire knew that they were losing and decided to sign an agreement with the British to end the war on Oct. 30, 1918, or about two weeks before the end of the war in the west on Nov. 11, 1918. Talaat the ultimate politician knew that the British did not want to deal with him or the others who were running the Ottoman Empire so he resigned his position as Grand Vizier and was taken by U Boat back to live in Berlin. Safe and away from the British or their allies. He trusted the Germans to protect him.
In 1919 he was court-martialed by a British Military Court in Constantinople and was found guilty of Crimes against Humanity. He was sentenced to death and he was viewed as the main orchestrator of the genocide. However, since he was living in Germany at the time-this ruling was not carried out.
The assassination was a part of Operation Nemesis, a revenge plan for the Armenian Genocide orchestrated by the Ottoman Imperial Government during World War I.
After a two-day trial, Tehlirian was found not guilty by the German court and freed. His defense attorney successfully put the victim (Talaat Pasha) on trial for the Armenian Genocide. He put witnesses on the stand that testified to horrible conduct and murder of the Armenian people. After two days of testimony, dozens of witnesses, and many signed documents by Talaat Pasha linking him to be the person who orchestrated the mass murders of Armenian Christians (Catholic and Orthodox)- the jury found him not guilty.
On the surface this a story of genocide, mass murder, but if dig deeper it is also a story of trust and faith. Talaat trusted the Germans for protection and in the end did not the German Government fail to protect him? The Armenians (Catholic and Orthodox) trusted their government (The Ottoman Empire) but in 1895 (200,000 deaths) and again in 1915-1923 (1.5 to 2.0 million deaths) did not their government fail them.
What would have happened to Moses if he had trusted the government in Egypt? What would have happened to the Maccabees if they had trusted the government and not gone against them?
This past Monday, March 15, 2021, is a special day, it is the 100th anniversary of a person’s death. This person was responsible for the mass murder of many Catholics and Orthodox Armenians. We should remember we should place our faith in God and not in the government. Governments are made of people and people will eventually let you down. God will not do this.
Bishop Fulton Sheen explained it this way, “The principle of democracy is a recognition of the sovereign, inalienable rights of man as a gift from God, the Source of law.” We must remember to keep God first not the government. We should always remember that God created us and we created the governments- it was not the other way around.
On this special day let us remember those who gave their lives for their Church and God and pray that we too have that same type of faith.