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Stockholm Syndrome: The True Story of Hostages Loyal to Their Captor

April 9, 2019 in History

By Christopher Klein

How a six-day hostage drama inside a Swedish bank christened the psychological phenomenon known as “Stockholm Syndrome.”

On the morning of August 23, 1973, an escaped convict crossed the streets of Sweden’s capital city and entered a bustling bank, the Sveriges Kreditbanken, on Stockholm’s upscale Norrmalmstorg square. From underneath the folded jacket he carried in his arms, Jan-Erik Olsson pulled a loaded submachine gun, fired at the ceiling and, disguising his voice to sound like an American, cried out in English, “The party has just begun!”

After wounding a policeman who had responded to a silent alarm, the robber took four bank employees hostage. Olsson, a safe-cracker who failed to return to prison after a furlough from his three-year sentence for grand larceny, demanded more than $700,000 in Swedish and foreign currency, a getaway car and the release of Clark Olofsson, who was serving time for armed robbery and acting as an accessory in the 1966 murder of a police officer. Within hours, the police delivered Olsson’s fellow convict, the ransom and even a blue Ford Mustang with a full tank of gas. However, authorities refused the robber’s demand to leave with the hostages in tow to ensure safe passage.

The unfolding drama captured headlines around the world and played out on television screens across Sweden. The public flooded police headquarters with suggestions for ending the standoff that ranged from a concert of religious tunes by a Salvation Army band to sending in a swarm of angry bees to sting the perpetrators into submission.

Press photographers and police snipers lie side by side on a roof opposite the bank where hostages were being held on August 24, 1973.

Holed up inside a cramped bank vault, the captives quickly forged a strange bond with their abductors. Olsson draped a wool jacket over the shoulders of hostage Kristin Enmark when she began to shiver, soothed her when she had a bad dream and gave her a bullet from his gun as a keepsake. The gunman consoled captive Birgitta Lundblad when she couldn’t reach her family by phone and told her, “Try again; don’t give up.”

When hostage Elisabeth Oldgren complained of claustrophobia, he allowed her to walk outside the vault attached to a 30-foot rope, and Oldgren told The New Yorker a year later that although leashed, “I remember thinking he was very kind to allow me to leave the vault.” Olsson’s …read more

Source: HISTORY

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