© Klaus Wagenbach, Berlín

Elli (1889-1941)

The eldest of the three sisters, married Karl Hermann (1883-1939), a farmer’s son from Siřem (Zürau) near Podbořany who was an astute businessman and a man of a rather worldly disposition and bearing. Karl Hermann enjoyed the conditional support of Kafka’s father who invested the requisite cash into the Prague Asbestos Works, Hermann and Co., in which Franz Kafka was Karl’s partner. Three children were born from the marriage of Karl Hermann and Elli Kafka: Felix Hermann (1911-1940), Hermann Kafka’s favourite grandson, and two daughters Gerti (1912-1972) and Hanne (1920-1941). Franz did not consider Elli’s marriage a particularly propitious one. In his younger years he had no great affinity for his sister, who, he felt, had most inherited his father’s characteristics, though in later years he considered Elli’s character had changed for the better.

Valli (1890-1942)

Kafka’s middle sister married Josef (Pepa) Pollak (1882-1942), chief clerk of the Fuchs company. She bore him two daughters: Marianne, Steiner by marriage (born 1913), who lives in London and administers the Franz Kafka legacy deposited in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, and Lotte (1914-1931). According to Franz, Valli was the sibling closest to their father, even though, or maybe because she resembled him the least in character.

Ottla (1892-1943)

Kafka’s youngest sister, and the one closest and dearest to him in spite of the nine-year difference in their ages, married Josef David (1891-1962), a top official at the Union of Bohemian Insurance Companies. Ottla had two daughters, Věra (born in 1921),  married name Projsová and later Saudková, and Helena (born in 1923), married name Kostrouchová and later Rumpoltová.