From the very beginning, Habsburgian literature was closely tied to the Empire’s »bureaucracy« – both to the administrative apparatus and to the class of officials who claimed this title as their own. The fact that numerous authors were recruited from this class may well have helped to create the »Habsburg myth«: the literary romanticisation of bureaucrats as loyal to the Emperor and as cultural pillars of a variegated empire that never accomplished to be a state in the modern sense. However, a real tie-up between the citizens and the bureaucracy, for which proof can be found still today and which is referred to as the »Habsburg effect«, is likely to have arisen due to the welfare state set up in the latter years of the Danube monarchy. Franz Kafka played a part in this. In addition to his articles and talks for the »Workmen’s Accident Insurance Bureau«, his literary texts also showed Kafka to be an analyst and reformer of both the old and new bureaucracy. Far from being mutually exclusive, his official duties and his writing constituted two aspects of one and the same enterprise: Kafka sought to free bureaucracy from the old Habsburg mythology; to repurpose it informally into an arbitrator in the class war and the conflict of nations; to give those it served a greater involvement in its workings; and to test the scope of a future bureaucracy that would be permanently reformed and ultimately indistinguishable from the social life. Kafka’s tales thus contain unique accounts of the Habsburg bureaucracy and of the myths and effects peculiar to it, for they keep the minutes of Habsburgian administration, while oscillating between the perspective of officialdom and that of an increasingly »colonised environment«.