Assassins are a fascinating group of people. They are willing to go to the grandest extremes for their goal, no matter the danger. What is equally as fascinating is the planning that goes into these assassinations, as the assassins spend enormous amounts of time planning the murder of the targets, even though they only have one chance to get it right.
One of the most intricate assassinations was brought to life by Envo Azef in 1904. He declared Vyacheslav Plehve an obstacle to freedom and ordered his assassination. Below is his role in the murder that served a precursor to the 1905 revolution.
Envo Azef is considered one of the masterminds behind the murder of Minister of Interior, Vyacheslav Konstantinovich von Plehve. Azef was born in 1869 and was the son of poor Jewish citizens. He was subjected to the alienation of the Russian empire which led him to join a revolutionary group in 1892. Meanwhile, was employed by the Russian Secret police, Okhrana. He travelled for his job which allowed him to meet other revolutionaries but was brought back to Russia where he joined and eventually became head of the Socialist Revolutionary Party. This party used terrorist tactics to incite change within Russia. Azef’s membership in both the Okhrana and the revolutionary group proved crucial to his plan of murder by allowing him to explore and understand the gaps in security gaps of Russian police.
Vyacheslav Plehve was born in 1846 and was from a noble, landowning family. He worked within the political circles in Russia, where he believed in Russification and supported the persecution of minorities in the empire. He worked his way up to be the Minister of Interior in Russia, an extremely influential position. He served in an extremely dangerous time littered with economic crises, civilian dissatisfaction and terrorism; an empire on the brink of rebellion. He became central to revolution tactics, as they believed ridding of him would allow for drastic change.
Building the murder:
A revolutionary group came out with a pamphlet attempting to justify the murder of Plehve. According to the revolutionaries he supported the Jewish Pogroms, a main reason for justification. He also held a crucial role in Russia, and by killing him the people could be liberated. They claimed he only used his position to oppress the people, and the distaste for him grew. His murder was no longer a goal but a demand.
These assassins took great care to plan this assassination to assure they got it right. The planning began far before the murder ever took place, and noted the intense process that led to its success.
The bomb used in this murder was made of dynamite and weighed approximately 12 pounds, making it easy to transport. These bombs were wrapped in newspaper to disguise them and were carried out in the open. There were many bomb makers for this revolutionary group, and they resided within the city for easy access.
To be successful, it was important to completely understand the movements and habits of the target. If they could not predict the day to day routine, it would be nearly impossible to carry out a successful attack. It was a difficult task as he was almost always under police watch, so the assassins had to pretend to be common citizens to get close enough to monitor his activities. They got jobs as street workers to justify being in the street for extended hours of the day. All had different jobs so no suspicion arose. They even rented an apartment to completely take on the part. They also left the city regularly to avoid being tracked. They found out that he left his home every week to travel to the Winter Palace, and his carriage would be the only place for a bombing, so they planned to bomb him then.
July 28, 1904:
The day of the murder some assassins dressed up as railroad porters to blend in and trace the beginning of the assassination. Bombs were handed to assassins and hidden in plain daylight. Everyone moved into positions, planted throughout the city. They stayed far enough away from one another to avoid suspicion and hid within city crowds. Their careful planning allowed them to know where each other member was; they worked in pure cohesion. Once in position (near Warsaw train station) they noted as police carriages moved by, unaware of the activity taking place under their noses. They spotted the correct carriage and began the attack. The street was masked by smoke letting them know that they had gotten it right
Chaos ensued as some assassins fled and others captured. Morale arose within the revolutionary group, as they had pulled off the ultimate assassination right under the police. Azef lived an almost normal life until the police were finally convinced of his true identity. He escaped to Germany though, goal complete, damage done, and understanding of how to pull off the perfect assassination.
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