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11-May-2020 08:10

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Small and blond, she had brown eyes whose essential expression was one of unusual gentleness.Looking back, Kristin feels certain it was Elisabeth’s eyes that accounted for the special care with which the bookkeeper placed her on the floor.A year ago last August 23rd, an escaped Swedish convict walked into the main office of one of Stockholm’s largest banks, the Sveriges Kreditbank, shortly after it had opened, bent on carrying out the most ambitious exploit of a long criminal career. One hand hugged a loaded submachine gun under a folded jacket.The other hand held a large canvas suitcase whose contents included reserve ammunition, plastic explosives, blasting caps, safety fuses, lengths of rope, a knife, wool socks, sunglasses, two walkie-talkies, and a transistor radio.That had happened three and a half years before, when, in her last days as a teen-ager, she came south with a young man to whom she was engaged; he had been offered an excellent post in Stockholm and was refusing to accept it unless Kristin accompanied him.In the capital, she had taken the first job that came along—the one at the bank—hardly aware of it while her romance flourished.The romance had eventually foundered, though, and at that point she had realized that the world of banking wasn’t for her.Impatiently, in the spring of 1973, she had decided to study social work, but the courses she needed, she had discovered, wouldn’t be getting under way until September.

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Olsson had scarcely entered the Kreditbank’s street floor when a number of customers and forty assorted employees—tellers, mail-deposit clerks, secretaries, junior officials—knew that they were to have no ordinary Thursday morning; within seconds he had whipped out his submachine gun and fired at the ceiling, sending down a shower of concrete and glass.

“I thought he was an Arab terrorist,” Birgitta Lundblad, an employee of ten years’ standing, who handled bank drafts from abroad, told me later. Fair and attractive in appearance, she commuted daily from Jakobsberg, a suburb less than a half hour away, where she lived with her husband—a civil engineer—and their two daughters, aged three and one and a half.

At the bank, Birgitta’s reputation was that of a diligent worker with an almost perfect attendance record.

Twisting herself onto her left side, she saw Birgitta lying nearby, as tightly bound as she herself was.

Scarcely had Kristin taken in this sight when she heard Olsson order the male bookkeeper to tie up yet a third employee—Elisabeth Oldgren, a twenty-one-year-old cashier in the foreign-exchange department, who had been with the bank fourteen months.

The convict wore gloves, and another pair was in the bag; he intended to give them to an accomplice who was not yet on the scene but whose appearance he confidently expected to arrange.