FULL TEXT: Berlin. – American women gangsters might well take lessons from Franziska Tyka, notorious Polish bandit.
The Bobbed Hair Bandit was a piker compared to her. But ambitious American women criminals who might like to receive instruction will have to wait. She has just been sentenced by the Criminal court Rybnkik, in Polish Upper Silesia, to seven years’ hard labor. It was proved that in the last five years she and her gang of about 20 men committed 31 robberies, and they are suspected of countless more.
Franziska was no ordinary robber chieftain. For her life was a pleasantly varied but pleasantly interwoven of love and loot, or, rather, loot and love. Franziska’s motto was “business first, pleasure afterward.” During the last ten years she and her gang were the terror of Upper Silesia, and she was both the terror and idol of her gang.
~ A False Halo. ~
A false halo of romance surrounds her crimes, which outshine the most imaginative efforts of the writers of the most lurid fiction. When Franziska stood before the judge in Rybnik she lifted her small soft hands – an alluring figure for all of her forty-one years – and begged for mercy for those of her band who were captured with her. Coquettishly throwing back her golden blond bobbed hair, she told him: “I committed all these robberies in the full confidence of the unshakable love of my men and in the belief that they were loyal to me to their death.”
Her life of crime began 22 years ago, when she was nineteen. She said she was driven to commit her first breach of the law. She conceived an intense hatred of society, which she indulged by her crimes. She led a life in which no demoralization was strange to her. Yet still she retains her feminine charm. No judge would have suspected, without the evidence submitted, that with these small and soft hands she had herself thrown the torch into peaceful farmhouses to start the fire which preceded the pillage.
Twenty men, between the ages of twenty and fifty, followed her command in the forests around Pless and Rybnik. A word from her and they would sally forth to attack and plunder peaceful settlements. The terror done, they would hasten back to their encampment. For ten years they worshiped her – her courage, her criminal brain and her sex. For Franziska had been mistress of them all in turn. That was her ultimate power over them.
~ Led Band in Person. ~
The fact was fully established at before she and her gang started on their raids, after all preparations were complete, she undressed completely and thus led her band to battle. Jealousy between the members of the band she kept down by feminine tact and kindness.
But fate at last overtook Franziska through one of her latest lovers, one of her gang who was fifty. For some time he believed he was unduly neglected by her. At last his jealousy drove him to betray her to the Polish police. Surrounded by a cordon of police and soldiers in their forest retreat, she and most of her band were starved into surrender.
With this capture the robberies around Pless and Rybnik have ceased. Those few of the band who have escaped have scattered to the four winds. Without their sweetheart and captain they are helpless. They are waiting impatiently the end of the weary seven years to come when she will be restored to liberty and to them. But will she be able to charm them seven years hence?
[“Woman Bandit Rules Her Band By Lure of Sex – Polish Woman and Gang Starved Into Capture After Many Crimes.” The Woodville Republican (Mississippi), Feb. 25, 1927, p. 1]