Throughout modern history, conflicts have taken place that has often involved brutal massacres and even genocides. After World War One, the world started to convey what was and what was not considered to be war crimes. This, unfortunately, would not be truly ratified until the Nuremberg Trials and Geneva Conventions after the nightmarish Holocaust.

Internationally indicted war criminals rarely turn themselves in voluntarily and must be forcibly brought before the international court of Law. Some others fled and attempted to create new aliases in their new host nations. With this came intelligence operations to assassinate known war criminals.

History of Capturing War Criminals: Operation Nemesis

Revenge assassinations against perpetrators of heinous acts are not new, and several jaw-dropping operations have taken place. Armenia would start the hallmark of retribution with Operation Nemesis.

Operation Nemesis was the covert action of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation to liquidate Ottoman officials responsible for the genocide against them. The Young Turks, who were the perpetrators, fled throughout the world after WWI after the Ottoman Court sentenced them for war crimes in absentia. The architect of the genocide, Talaat Pasha, fled to Germany.

Tasking strong-willed and educated Armenians to conduct reconnaissance on the whereabouts of the Young Turks, the ARF shocked the world when Soghomon Tehlirian shot and killed Talaat Pasha at direct range in broad daylight in Berlin. He was then immediately arrested and given a fair trial in Germany.

In his trial, Tehlirian stated, “I killed a man, but I am not a murderer.” The German court found him not guilty as the trauma he and his people faced was too much to bear, along with the guilt that members of the Young Turks had been given amnesty in the country. In the next few years, all the prominent Ottoman officials involved with the genocide would be hunted down and killed.

History of Capturing War Criminals: Operation Finale

In the aftermath of the Holocaust and the foundations of the nation of Israel, intelligence agencies of Tel Aviv sought Nazi war criminals who escaped the Nuremberg Trials. Numerous war criminals were either given haven by the US or Soviet Union for their own scientific programs or fled to South America thanks to collaboration by elements of the Catholic Church—one of the most notorious Nazi criminals on the run was Adolf Eichmann.