Austrian hospitals

After his return from Berlin in March 1924, Kafka had to stay in Prague for unexpected medical reasons, the sudden loss of his voice. He left for Austria early in April, spending the last two months of his life in three Austrian sanatoria.


His first destination was the Wienerwald sanatorium, 40 km south-west of Vienna, where he only spent one week. The doctors there suspected laryngeal tuberculosis, which they did not have the means to treat. Neither the patient nor Dora, who was housed in a chalet next door to the sanatorium, was satisfied with conditions in the hospital. However, from then on Kafka would only send positive reports to his family.

Prof. Hajek’s clinic

Kafka was transferred to Professor Hajek’s laryngology clinic in Vienna. He was transported there in bad weather in an open car, with Dora using her body to shield him from the strong wind. At the clinic, laryngeal tuberculosis was officially diagnosed. Kafka’s larynx was too swollen for him to eat or drink and he suffered from thirst. In addition, the atmosphere of the clinic was depressing and Dora and Robert Klopstock, who was to take care of Kafka to the end, eventually obtained his release into home care. However, Dora soon found him a new place of treatment in Kierling.

Dr. Hoffmann’s sanatorium

© Klaus Wagenbach, Berlin
Kafka was transferred to Dr Hoffmann’s sanatorium in Kierling near Klosterneuburg where he was to spend the last six weeks of his life. His friends, particularly, Felix Weltsch, sent one of Vienna’s top lung specialists, Prof. Heinrich Neumann, who made it clear that Kafka’s condition was now hopeless. By that time, Kafka could only communicate with those around him by means of notes which have been preserved and testify to the writer’s mental clarity up to his death. His correspondence with his family was mostly restricted to short footnotes to Dora’s letters. Dora did all she could to alleviate Kafka’s suffering and made her reports to the family sound as optimistic as possible. When Kafka’s strength gave way in mid-sentence while writing his last letter on the eve of his death and Dora saw he still had something urgent to communicate, she took the pen from his hand so he could dictate the rest to her. However, he seemed to have lacked the strength to complete his thought and so the letter ends in mid-sentence. That was on 2 June, and on 3 June 1924, Franz Kafka died. On 10 June he was buried in the New Jewish Cemetery in Prague-Strašnice.