Mehmed Talat was the interior minister who ordered the arrest of Armenian leaders with a Circular on April 24 1915 and sent a request for the Tehcir Law on May 29 1915, which initiated large scale genocide of the Ottoman Armenians. He is reported to have said "Kill every Armenian man, woman, and child without concern for anything" a quote from the "Andonian Telegrams".
At the age of 21 he had a love affair with the daughter of the Jewish headmaster he worked for. He was caught sending a telegram saying "Things are going well. I'll soon reach my goal." With two of his friends of the post office, he was charged with tampering with the official telegraph and arrested in 1893. He claimed that the message in question was to his girl-friend. The Jewish girl came forward to defend him. Sentenced to two years of jail, he was pardoned but exiled to Salonica as a postal clerk.
Between 1898 and 1908 he served as a postman, on the staff of the Salonica Post Office. Eventually, having served 10 years at this postal unit, he became the Head of Salonica Post Office.
After the assassination of the Prime Minister Mahmud Sevket Pasa in July 1913, Talat Pasha once again became Minister of Interior Affairs. Talat, along with Enver Pasha and Djemal Pasha formed a group called the Three Pashas. These men formed the triumvirate of the Ottoman government until the end of war in October, 1918.
On April 24 1915, Talat issued an Circular on April 24 1915 to close all Armenian political organisations operating within the Ottoman Empire and arrest Armenians connected to them, justifying the action by stating that the organisations were controlled from outside the empire, were inciting upheavals behind the Ottoman lines, and were cooperating with Russian forces. Thie order resulted in the arrest on the night of 24/25 April 1915 of between 235 to 270 Armenian community leaders in Constantinople, including politicians, clergymen, physicians, authors, journalists, lawyers, and teachers. Although mass killings of Armenian civilians had begun in the Van vilayet several weeks earlier, these mass-arrests in Constantinople are considered by many commentators to be the start of the Armenian Genocide.
Talat, as minister of the interior, bears much of the responsibility for the deportation of the Armenians from the empire's eastern provinces to Syria. Most historians blame him for the barbarity of the operation and the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. Although Talat was the minister of the interior, many historians argue that Enver Pasha deserves equal blame for the extermination of the Armenians. He is reported to have said the following to Ambassador Henry Morgenthau, Sr. in Ambassador Morgenthau's Story
Public opinion was shocked by the departure of Talat Pasha, even though he had been known to turn a blind eye on corrupt ministers appointed because of their associations to CUP . Talat Pasha was known as a courageous and patriotic individual, and he would willingly face the consequences. With the occupation of Istanbul Izzet Pasha resigned. Tevfik Pasha took the position of Grand Vizir the same day that British ships entered the Golden Horn. Tevfik Pasha lasted until 4 March 1919, replaced by Ferid Pasha whose first order was the arrest of leading members of the CUP.
By January 1919, a report to Sultan Mehmed VI accused over 130 suspects, most of whom were high officials, including Talat. The courts announced that "In accordance with the stipulations of the Law the death penalty against Talat, Enver, Cemal, and Dr. Nazim".
However, the British were determined not to leave Talat alone. The British had intelligence reports indicating that he had gone to Germany, and the British High Commissioner pressured Damad Ferit Pasha and the Sublime Porte to demand from Germany to return to Ottoman Empire. As a result of efforts pursued personally by (Sir) Andrew Ryan, a former Dragoman and now a member of the British intelligence service, Germany responded to Ottoman Empire stating that it was willing to be helpful if official papers could be produced showing these persons had been found guilty, and added that the presence of these persons in Germany could not as yet be ascertained.
These meetings corroborated earlier intelligence to the effect that Talat Pasha was seeking support from Muslim countries to form a serious opposition movement against the Allied Powers, and that he was soon intending to take refuge in Ankara, which Turkish national movement was forming. Furthermore, Talat Pasha also dared to make the threat that he was going to incite the Pan-Turanist and Pan-Islamist movements against England, unless she signed a peace treaty favorable for Turkey.
During this interview Talat maintained on several occasions that the CUP had always sought British friendship and advice; but Britain was in no mood to offer any assistance whatsoever.
Their intelligence service established contact with its counterpart in the Soviet Union to evaluate the situation. Talat Pasha's plans made the Russian officials as anxious as the British. The two intelligence services collaborated and signed among them the 'death warrant' of Talat. Information concerning his physical description and his whereabouts was forwarded to their men in Germany.
It was decided that Armenian revolutionaries carry out the verdict. Arab journalist Mustafa Amin's contention is that the British intelligence itself was behind the assassinations of exiled Young Turk leaders in the early 1920s: such as Talat, Jemal Pasha. As a matter of fact, Talat was assassinated with a single bullet on 15 March 1921 as he came out of his house in Hardenbergstrasse, Charlottenburg by an Armenian Revolutionary Federation member from Erzurum named Soghomon Tehlirian. .
The assassination was claimed to be part of a bigger operation "Operation Nemesis."
The trial examined not only Tehlirian’s actions but also Tehlirian's conviction that Talat Pasha was the main author of the Armenian Genocide, based on the "Talat Pasha telegrams." The Memoirs of Naim Bey (Talat Pasha telegrams) were read by the defense lawyer to the jury, although not introduced as evidence in court as the defense lawyer canceled his motion. Reading of these letters by the defense attorney in court helped acquit Tehlirian.