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A Veteran Soldier Perfected The Ultimate Bank Robbery

Turns out discipline and intense planning lend themselves equally well to army life and grand larceny.

If there's anything people know about troops and veterans, it's that they're disciplined and more often than not, they plan things very well. It should come as a surprise to no one that the gangster who perfected the bank heist was a soldier who did his due diligence.

It might also surprise no one that the same soldier decided to end it all in a blaze of glory while surrounded by people trying to shoot him.

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You can thank former Prussian soldier Herman Lamm for all the great bank robbery movies, gangster shows, and heist flicks you've ever seen in your life. The legend of Robin Hood-like, gun-toting gangster robbing banks and speeding away from the cops in a hail of bullets? That's Lamm too. Machine Gun Kelly, John Dillinger, and Bonnie and Clyde owe their successes to Lamm. Known as the "father of modern bank robbery", Hamm pioneered the idea of conducting the heist in the same style as a military operation.

Lamm was born in the German Empire and later joined the Prussian Army before emigrating to the United States, where he began to rob and steal. Instead of becoming your average stick-up thief, he adapted the tactics and psychology he was taught by the Prussian Army to his crimes. The effect became legendary.

In what would later be dubbed "the Lamm Technique", he would watch a bank, its guards, and its employees. People in his gang would map the layouts of the banks in various ways, posing as reporters or other outsider professions. He even meticulously planned his getaways, which cars to use, and cased out what routes to take at which times in the day. For the what seemed to be the first time, each member of the gang was assigned a specific role in the heist, hiring a race car driver to drive the getaway car.

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Most importantly, he drilled his men on the action. He practiced and timed every action with every member of the gang to ensure German-level efficiency of the heist.

Lamm was not as flashy as the gangsters of the era who decided to make a show of their heists, so history doesn't remember him as fondly as his contemporaries. He died in his final bank heist, surrounded by armed cops, all trying to get a piece of history's most efficient thief. But Lamm didn't give them the satisfaction, ending his own life instead of getting gunned down by Indiana cops.

Published on 15 May 2019

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