Oskar Baum

1883 – 1941

© Archiv Klaus Wagenbach, Berlin
Prose writer, playwright and music critic, a member of the quartet generally known as the Prague Circle, which also included Brod, Kafka and Felix Weltsch. While a high school student in Plzeň, he lost his sight in a skirmish between Czech and German students. Brod, who was Baum’s cousin, brought Kafka to meet him some time in 1904. Baum courageously coped with his blindness and was the first of the four friends to marry. His flat was the venue for most of the quartet’s friendly meetings as well as the reading of documents and discussions about them. In early 1918, Baum, who was then in an unhappy marriage, spent eight snowy days with Kafka at the latter’s sister’s house in Siřem (Zürau) near Podbořany. They passed their nights in discussion. In a later memoir about Kafka, Baum stated that he learned more about Kafka in the course of those nights than in all of the ten years before and five years after.