The Workers’ Accident Insurance Institute

Franz Kafka was employed at the Workers’ Accident Insurance Institute for the Kingdom of Bohemia for 14 years, from 30 August 1908 to his early retirement on 1 July 1922. His promotion record in the institute bore proof of his excellent performance as an official:
  • 30 Aug. 1908 employed as an assistant
  • 1 Oct. 1909 appointed probationer
  • 1 May 1910 confirmed as a permanent civil servant
  • 1 March 1913 appointed Junior Secretary of the Institute
  • 1 Jan. 1920 appointed Secretary of the Institute
  • 3 Feb. 1922 appointed Senior Secretary of the Institute
The Workers’ Accident Insurance Institute was a partially state-owned institution and Jews had very restricted access to it. In 1913, for instance, out of 263 employees only 2 were Jewish. Kafka was engaged thanks to string-pulling by his college friend Ewald Felix Příbram, whose father was the President of the Institute until 1917. In those days, the Prague Workmen’s Accident Insurance Institute was the most important accident insurance institution in the whole of Austria, responsible for about one third of all accident policies in the monarchy. After the fall of the empire in 1918, most of the Institute’s employees were Czech, as only those Germans who had a positive attitude to the Czechoslovak state were kept on the staff. Being a loyal citizen of the republic, Kafka was retained.
As was customary, Franz Kafka was engaged at the very low salary of 3 crowns a day plus a 10% bonus. He was well qualified for work in the field of industrial insurance. During his probationary year at court from February to May 1907 he had taken a course in industrial insurance at the German Commercial Academy in Prague, where his lecturers had included some of his future superiors at the institute: Dr. Rudolf Marschner, who was appointed director shortly after Kafka joined the staff (because of his stylistic proficiency Kafka was chosen to deliver the welcome speech ), Inspector Eugen Pfohl, Kafka’s beloved immediate superior, and Dr. Salomon Fleischmann, the second Jew in the institute, a highly-experienced specialist and close colleague of Kafka’s.