Stockholm Syndrome – 1973

By | February 14, 2017

“The party has just begun”



The term “Stockholm Syndrome- is derived from the taking of four hostages during a robbery at the Sveriges Kreditbank, Stockholm in 1973. Criminologist and psychologist Nils Bejerot coined the term, which refers to the behaviour of kidnap victims who become sympathetic to their captor.

Not long after the bank opened for business on 23 August, 32-year-old Jan Erik Olsson walked in and raked the place with machine gun fire, announcing, “The party has just begun.” The police were rapidly on the scene and two policemen entered the bank. Olsson shot one and the other was forced to sit on a chair and “sing something”. He chose Lonesome Cowboy.

Olsson then took four bank employees — three women and one man — hostage in the vault. Olsson demanded three million kronor and the freeing of prisoner Clark Olofsson, who had six more years to serve and who had tried to escape just two weeks previously. He also wanted a fast car, two guns, bulletproof vests and a helmet. Clark Olofsson was brought to the bank where he took part in the negotiations.

Kristin Enmark, one of the hostages, said that she felt safe with the two criminals but feared the situation would worsen if the police attempted to rescue her and the other three clerks. The police negotiators agreed to the demand of a car but refused to allow Olsson and Olofsson to leave in it if they tried to take the hostages. Olsson rang Prime Minister Olof Palme (search the related post) and threatened to kill the hostages if his demands were not met.

The next day, Enmark rang Mr Palme and said that she was upset by his attitude and asked that the robbers be allowed to leave. On the evening of 28 August the police used tear gas to end the siege after 131 hours.


Sveriges Kreditbank, Norrmalmstorg Square, Stockholm, Sweden


10.15am Thursday 23 August 1973


Jan Erik Olsson was sentenced to ten years in prison for his part in the robbery. Clark Olofsson was returned to jail after also being convicted but he claimed that he had tried to help the situation and his conviction was quashed. He later became friends with Kristin Enmark. Jan Erik Olsson married one of the women who wrote him fan letters while he was in prison.


Released from prison, Jan Erik Olsson continued to commit crimes. Finally, racked by guilt, on 2 May 2006 he gave himself up, only to be told that the police were no longer interested and were not planning to prosecute.

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