Sacred Justice – The Voices and Legacy of the Armenian Operation Nemesis

Sacred Justice – The Voices and Legacy of the Armenian Operation Nemesis –


Sacred Justice is a cross-genre book that uses narrative, memoir, unpublished letters, and other primary and secondary sources to tell the story of a group of Armenian men who organized Operation Nemesis, a covert operation created to assassinate the Turkish architects of the Armenian Genocide. The leaders of Operation Nemesis took it upon themselves to seek justice for their murdered families, friends, and compatriots.

This book includes a large collection of previously unpublished letters, found in the upstairs study of the author’s grandfather, Aaron Sachaklian, one of the leaders of Nemesis, that show the strategies, personalities, plans, and dedication of Soghomon Tehlirian, who killed Talaat Pasha, a genocide leader; Shahan Natalie, the agent on the ground in Europe; Armen Garo, the center of Operation Nemesis; Aaron Sachaklian, the logistics and finance officer; and others involved with Nemesis.

The author tells a story that has been either hidden by the necessity of silence or ignored in spite of victims’ narratives. This is the story of those who attempted to seek justice for the victims and the effect this effort had on them and on their families. The book shows how the narratives of resistance and trauma can play out in the next generation and how resistance can promote resilience. Little has been written about Operation Nemesis. As we approach the centennial anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, it is time.

Marian Mesrobian MacCurdy (Author)

Marian Mesrobian MacCurdy, retired professor and chair of the Department of Writing at Ithaca College, is currently special assistant to the president at Hampshire College, where she teaches courses in the personal essay, teaching writing, and the theory and practice of therapeutic writing.

Editorial Reviews

“How could a secret plot to murder the perpetrators of the Armenian genocide be viewed as ‘sacred justice?’ Marian Mesrobian MacCurdy explores this troubling question in her brilliantly researched and deeply moving book about Operation Nemesis, the secret organization created to assassinate the unpunished Turkish leaders responsible for the massacres of Ottoman Armenians during World War I. Through previously unpublished letters, which will be a treasure trove for historians and political scientists, and her keen memories of her maternal grandfather, one of the key figures of the clandestine group, she brings to life one of the most tragic struggles of the early twentieth century. She shows how calamities such as genocide are passed on intergenerationally, influencing second- and third-generation survivors. The Armenian tragedy passed virtually unnoticed, as Hitler cynically observed when he asked, ‘Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?’ Professor MacCurdy does, we might respond. Combining archival research, trauma theory, writing studies, and personal memoir, Sacred Justice took a lifetime to write—and will be read for generations to come.”

—Jeffrey Berman, author of Dying in Character: Memoirs on the End of Life

“A riveting, important book. With deep and cogent analysis, Marian Mesrobian MacCurdy reveals her grandfather’s secret involvement in ‘Operation Nemesis,’ a small cadre of individuals who avenged the Armenian genocide through assassination in 1921 and 1922.  In this book are secret documents that have not been seen before. MacCurdy then explores the complex relationships and interactions between generations that have inherited the legacy of an unspeakable crime.  This book is significant in more than one way: it reveals the inner-workings of an incredible secret organization while exhaustively investigating how genocide and its denial infects its victims and the children and grandchildren of those victims. There are revelations in this book that cannot be found anywhere else.” 

—Eric Bogosian, actor, playwright, and novelist

Sacred Justice is a magnificent synthesis of familial memory, history, outrage, witness, and mourning. It is also a celebration of the resilience of people who refused to be erased, whose lives were dedicated to the restoration of moral balance, and whose legacy is a kind of recipe for survival. What a rich, flavorful, exciting, and deeply satisfying book this is!” —Richard Hoffman, author of Half the House and Love & Fury


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