They were solidly middle class. Kafka’s father, Hermann, was the son of a ritual slaughter in Osek, located in southern Bohemia. The position also referred to as a schochet, meant that Kafka’s grandfather was responsible for slaughtering specific mammals and birds for food in accordance with kashrut, or the Jewish dietary laws.
After becoming a father, Hermann brought his family to Prague where he worked for a time as a traveling sales representative and then a fashion retailer. Hermann was a consummate businessman. He is described by Kafka as large in health, “worldly dominance” and appetite. Kafka’s mother, Julie, was the daughter of a retail merchant and had received a more intensive education than her husband.
Kafka’s parents worked hard to support the family but this meant that the Kafka children spent most of their time on their own or in the care of servants. Together, Hermann and Julie had six children, Kafka was the oldest. Unfortunately, his two brothers died when they were babies. His sisters, Gabriele, Valeria, and Ottilie all died in the Holocaust.
Franz Kafka’s Romantic Relationships
Although Kafka never married, he had several notable relationships. His best friend, Max Brod, later wrote and spoke about his friend, describing his tortured mindset when it came to sex, his self-esteem, and women. He was a womanizer but also filled with a fear of failing as a partner. Kafka also spent time visiting brothels.
In 1912 he met Felice Bauer, one of Brod’s relatives. He fell for her instantly and they spoke through letters for five years. They got engaged twice over this period but never married. Kafka got engaged for a third time to Julie Wohryzek, a hotel chambermaid. But, they too never got married. Although unconfirmed, Brod and others have reported that Kafka fathered a child with another woman, Margarethe Bloch, a friend of Felice Bauer’s. Kafka apparently never knew about his baby and to this day it’s unknown whether or not the child was his.
In 1920 he started a relationship with Milena Jesenská, a journalist. Later, he moved in with another woman, Dora Diamant, a kinder garden teacher.