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In prison

     Olga Hepnarová’s life in various correctional facilities began on 10.7.1973 in remand prison 1 in Praha – Ruzyně. Formally, the city prosecutor took her into custody already at 14:00, but because of the evening interrogation she arrived at Ruzyně approximately at 23:00, accompanied by the investigator lieutenant J. H. (who conducted the first interrogation).

lcpvofb2.jpgAfter entering the prison, she went through the usual entry routine – just like every other indicted person who was about to be incarcerated. This included frisk search, forfeiting of her identification papers and valuables (these three procedures were each filled in three separate documents, namely: Protocol on frisk search, List of personal items and civil clothing, List of the prisoner’s valuables), making of a mugshot (which consisted of three different photographs), check-up by a prison doctor and collecting of her prison attire and items of personal use. After performing her personal hygiene, she then handed over her civil clothing and, shortly after midnight, was finally placed in a cell. In the section 10 of the Arrest warrant (i.e. Notice of eventual safety measures, health condition of the indictee, and other important facts), the prosecutor who issued it wrote: “keep her under increased watch – possible suicidal tendencies!!! /if possible, put her alone in the cell/”, but despite this warning, she had been repeatedly placed in a cell for more inmates. Finally, after a couple of months (on 19.11.1973), they, at her own request interpreted through her attorney JUDr. T., placed her in a cell for two inmates. When filling in the request, she, apart from asking for writing instruments and paper, also cited her reasons for this move: “lack of comfort in her current cell, which makes it difficult for her to prepare her defense speech properly”. After spending her first three weeks in custody in the Ruzyně prison, she had been moved to an enclosed pavilion no. 17 in the Psychiatric hospital in Bohnice (on the last day of July 1973), where she spent a little over three months. After that, in the beginning of November 1973, she had been again moved back to Ruzyně.

olv1fb2.jpgShortly after Christmas, on 27.12.1973, she had been transferred to remand prison 2 in Praha – Pankrác. Currently, there isn’t any existing document which would explain the reasons for this decision as well as to who exactly decided to imprison her in Ruzyně first. One of the possible reasons may be that the investigators and state representatives initially weren’t quite sure of how to classify her crime. First and foremost, it was imperative to rule out the most obvious motive for such insane act: i.e. the ideological reasons. Consequently, the first days of the investigation saw heavy involvement of State Security, which, in my view, was exactly the reason why she’d been placed in Ruzyně first, as this prison usually held those who were suspected of committing politically motivated crimes, and also those who were investigated by the State Security itself. The prison in Ruzyně also possessed a quite large network of informants among the inmates, some of whom were actually hired to monitor Olga Hepnarová as well (they provided the investigators with the so-called Intelligence summaries, as these reports from the informants have been known), so most likely, it was because of this particular reason why the prosecutor’s request for solitary cell had been ignored. However, when the investigators completely ruled out the ideological motive, there wasn’t any obvious reason to keep her in Ruzyně as well, so they subsequently moved her to Pankrác prison where she stayed till her execution on 12.3.1975.

pr.-opufb2.jpgAll in all, Olga Hepnarová’s life behind the bars lasted exactly 610 days. A complete change of the daily regime and living environment coupled with the deprivation of personal freedom and a looming danger of death penalty – all this would’ve easily defeated many men, not to even mention a young girl like her. With her above average intellect and vast knowledge, she must’ve been certainly aware of how serious her situation was, but it doesn’t seem like it had changed her, call it “specific view on the world”, a lot. On the one hand, her stay in prison allowed her to, at least partially, settle one of her biggest issues: i.e. finding new female sexual partners. Some of them acted in this “relationship” on purpose, as they were hired by the State Security in hope to gain new information from Hepnarová. Since they offered her the sexual intercourse, the general assumption was that Hepnarová, in return, would be more open to them as opposed to other, casual inmates, and thus reveal them a lot more than usual. Hence, the investigators learned that “she considers the investigator who conducted the interrogation as a primitive person” or that “she once told the doctor MUDr. B. how the society is bullying her and thus asked him whether she has any right to take a revenge upon it, to which MUDr. B. replied: yes”. At one time, she also mentioned her boyfriend M.D. She recalled how there were certain discrepancies and conflicts between them, even during their holiday in Slovakia. For example, she complained of how he didn’t take sides with her when a group of some boys shouted at her various abusive remarks (e.g. “look, there’s that lesbian girl coming!”) as they were entering a grocery in front of the boarding house in Malešice, and this even though he must’ve heard them yelling these screams. She also mentioned that, according to her estimations, he must’ve been sensing that “she’s about to do something serious” as she, among other things, wanted to give him her car, and that he was also that proverbial last straw which finally forced her to commit her crime. She also recalled how she was once called in to appear before the ONV commission in Oleško (for shoplifting a paint tin), where one woman asked her what does she exactly mean by saying: a revenge upon the society, and also whether she, as a truck driver, isn’t about to do something of criminal nature. Sometimes, when the investigators weren’t satisfied with the information which Hepnarová provided them during their talks, they employed an informant to ask her on a specific topic. This was the case when they asked her if she hadn’t already dumped some vehicles in the Slapy dam in the past, as they were currently investigating some similar cases of cars being dropped in the aforementioned water reservoir. Her response to this question was: no. Of course, what interested the investigators the most were her own views on her crime. Hence, they asked her several times on this topic. In one of her answers, she told them that “she’s fully aware of her crime and has her score settled with the society, doesn’t remember of doing any harm to anyone and that every victim of her crime carries his/her own share of guilt for being killed”, then later, when they asked her whether she would’ve done it again, she replied “probably yes, but right now she would’ve done it purely for her own pleasure”. She also ”considers herself as a strong individual and is proud of what she’s done, because there are many people like her in the society, but no one has the courage to do what she’s done as they’re all cowards”. One of her inmates (employed as an informant) also noted: “When in the cell, she’s taking notes, writing down all the names of those who did her some harm. She wants to give this list to the investigator. Regarding herself, she doesn’t think she’s normal, but at the same time doesn’t want to be proclaimed as insane. Allegedly, she thought of herself as a schizophrenic.”

On the other hand, even here, in prison, Olga Hepnarová continued with her paranoid approach to the people. Partially, this was understandable – as evidenced in her talks with the expert witnesses, whom she once told that she immediately noticed that some of her inmates were purposedly “employed” to watch her. However, the same negative and distrustful attitude which she showed towards her inmates she immediately displayed towards the SNV staff as well. This behavior can be pretty evident in one event which she mentioned in her notes, and which I’d like to (partially) quote here:

This is what happened to me: About one month after my vengeance, I’ve been relocated to a different type of custody, among new people. The personnel in charge immediately attacked me like a swarm of hornets, showering me with screams, insults, invectives (for example mocking my walk, calling me a monkey, etc.). In other words, I’ve been offered the same old food which I’d been fed with before. I’ve told them: “If you still don’t know it, I’m already avenged. The way you’re treating me now is exactly the same how you were treating me before July the 10th, but back then, you didn’t have any reason to do that. Now you have it, so feel free to bully me again, you creatures”. And these people literally demanded me to greet them with good morning and good evening. Now I’m mentioning this story to let you know that you no longer have even the slightest hold on me. There isn’t any punishment which you could impose on me anymore and there’s nothing worse that can bring me down except for what I’ve already experienced. All you can do is to continue ruining me psychically. That way you will only accomplish the psychical and moral destruction which you’ve been striving for since I was born. And I emphasize that you were doing it independently from each other, without knowing what the others were thinking, which is exactly where your hate towards me defies any rational reason. Whoever and wherever may’ve felt it, he manifested or affirmed with his deeds the same, insatiable – bestial – animal hatred, like everyone else.

Olga Hepnarová certainly wasn’t what you’d call a trouble-free inmate. In essence, her behavior during imprisonment demonstrated the same patterns which she already exhibited in her civil life. On the one hand shy, introverted and keeping a safe distance from the others, on the other then paranoid in her views of the others’ behavior and with her own hierarchy of moral values and understanding of “injustice”. For example, when they relocated her from the Ruzyně prison to Pankrác in the last days of December 1973, there were some issues with the heating of the cells there. They were heated only from 6:00 to 14:00, which meant the inmates had to spend the remaining time in cold. Within a couple of days, she sent a written complaint to the prosecutor who was overseeing the custody, describing him this fact. Also, she and her inmate complained that it took too much time, roughly 6 weeks, to transfer their account from one prison to another, which left them without any money during the aforementioned time.

In my view, she initially endured her imprisonment (considering her health status) very well. Already in August 1973, she wrote in her letter to her boyfriend M.D.: “I’m writing you this letter as a free human being, but formally, it’s the opposite.”, but it doesn’t seem as if she was all that worried – apart from having to endure the lack of some cigarettes here and there. Subconsciously, she definitely felt some “changes for the better”: contact with only small, constant group of people, the same, unchanging daily regime which didn’t require her to ask anyone unknown to her for anything, plenty of opportunities to find new female sexual partners, and, last but not least, a sense of certain belonging to the local prison community, where many inmates shared the same, negative views on the “outside world” during their imprisonment. After all, that’s how the expert witnesses viewed it (and later interpreted in their report) as well. According to their belief, serving a sentence in prison (whose official purpose was to “correct”) should, in the end, also serve as a punishment, but with Olga Hepnarová, they (quite logically) stated that her stay behind the bars wouldn’t have had the desired, “punishing” effect.

Used abbreviations:

ONV – Okresní národní výbor; District National Commitee
SNV – Sbor nápravné výchovy; Correctional Education Corps