An Assassins Guide to a Successful Murder


Historical Photos of Assassination of Russian Minister of Interior.

  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.

The Assassin:

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.


Spartacus Educational.

The Target

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.


Spartacus Education.

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.

The murder:

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:

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.

The plan:

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


Visions of Terror.

The Aftermath:

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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Works Cited:

8 thoughts on “An Assassins Guide to a Successful Murder

    1. There was a lot of suspicion surrounding Azef but neither side acted on it at first. Around 1912, a police defector convinced others that he was a spy and Azef fled to Germany. He was arrested by Germans in WWI but then released in 1917.


  1. I thought this post was very well written and it is apparent you put a lot of effort into writing this post! It is very easy to follow and the topic you picked was different and intriguing. You pulled from many different sources and that added dimension to your post. Very well done!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This was a great post! The title was really interesting and I liked the format of this post; it was unique but also really descriptive on all the important details and factors. I also thought it was interesting how they released pamphlets to build popular support for his murder and the meticulous planning that went into the assassination.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I really enjoyed your post! First, I think you picked an interesting and unique topic that I did not know about before reading so it was informative and fast paced which kept me focused. Second, you did a good job at detailing the actors involved and the background circumstances that explained why they thought political assassination was their best option at that point in time. Lastly, I find it interesting that the bombs weighed around twelve pounds because that would be extremely unwieldy and considered extremely heavy today with our use of modern explosives. Great job!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I really like your format! Assassination is a fascinating part of revolution, particularly in 1905 Russia. Both state enforcers (the Okhrana and the Special Corps of Gendarmes) and revolutionary groups utilized terrorist-like acts to quiet and push change. Excellent use of sources!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Very great topic and formatting of the blog so that the information was easy to follow. The title got me hooked right away and I wanted to know more which is key! You managed to capture the fact that assassinations are an art to those who carry them out and that was certainly interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

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