On July 10, 1973, Czech mass murderer Olga Hepnarová drove a truck into a group of innocent people waiting for a tram in Prague, killing eight and injuring twelve. One of Czechoslovakia’s most notorious murderers, she was last woman to be executed in the country.
Olga Hepnarová was born in 1951 to a middle class family in Prague. She did quite well at school but as she grew older she found it increasingly difficult to communicate with her parents and classmates. She later claimed that she could hardly approach people and that the world was her enemy.
In 1964, at the age of 13, she attempted suicide and spent a year in a psychiatric hospital. The rest of her teens passed without incident, but, as a young adult she became obsessed by feelings of hatred for both her family and society as a whole, and was reported to have heard voices.
On July 10, 1973, Olga rented this truck, and spent nearly half an hour circling a busy tram stop waiting for a satisfactory number of people to gather there. When some 25 people were present, she drove the lorry straight into them. Three of her victims died at the scene, two more later that day, and another three died within days of the attack. Six more were badly injured and a further six only slightly.
Prior to the murder, Olga had sent a letter to two newspapers explaining her action as revenge for all the perceived hatred against her by her family and the world. But due to the slowness of the postal system, the letter was received two days after the murder.
.. I am a loner. A destroyed man. A man destroyed by people… I have a choice – to kill myself or to kill others. I choose – TO REVENGE MY HATERS. It would be too easy to leave this world as an unknown suicide. The society is too indifferent, rightly so. My verdict is: I, Olga Hepnarová, the victim of your bestiality, sentence you to death penalty.
She was arrested and told detectives that it was her intention to kill as many people as possible. She expressed no regret for her actions. In her statement she said “There were no trams, no cars, nothing was in my way. I said to myself that was the right time to do it. I drove on the pavement, went on and ran into the crowd of people knocking them down.”
Psychology experts found her fully aware of her actions and on April 6, 1974, she was found guilty of all eight murders and sentenced to death by hanging. Gustáv Husák, the President of the Czechoslovac Socialistic Republic, refused her mother’s plea for mercy and her execution was fixed for March 12, 1975.
Interviewed in prison, Olga told reporters that “I am not affraid of the death sentence, I do accept it”. She was 23 years, 8 months and 10 days old and was the last woman to be executed in Czechoslovakia.
The Czech-Polish drama I, Olga, starring Polish actress Michalina Olszanska as Olga, explores the short and difficult life of one of Czechoslovakia’s most notorious murderers.
Find out more about Central European history in our new On this Day series.