A midwife in the Hungarian town of Szolnok hit upon what she thought was a brilliant business idea. She distributed bottles of arsenic to women in the town so that they could kill off their husbands, boy friends and any other relatives who stood in the way of inheritances.

After 50 men had been poisoned, the police got to hear about it via an anonymous letter. The bodies of the victims were exhumed and all were found to have died from arsenic poisoning.

As the net closed in on the midwife she committed suicide. But among her customers who had profited from her arsenic handouts, 31 women and three men were arrested.

In January, 1930, one of the women, Maria Kardos, was convicted of the arsenic murder of her husband 11 years earlier and was sentenced to death.

Capital punishment was rarely carried out in Hungary before the Communists came to power at the end of the Second World War and it was even rarer in the case of women. One woman was hanged in 1921 – ironically for a murder in Szolnok – but the last execution before that was before the reign of the Emperor Franz-Joseph, which began in 1848.

This lack of precedent was insufficient to spare Maria Kardos. She was hanged in Budapest Central Prison on Tuesday, January 13th, 1931.