Kafka Manuscript Collection to go to Israel National Library

Posted: 10/15/2012 2:07:00 AM
Author: Scott Krane
Source: This article first appeared on the Arutz 7 website on Oct. 15, 2012,

Kafka Manuscript Collection to go to Israel National Library

The Israel National Library will be recipient of collection of unpublished Franz Kafka works saved by his friend Max Brod.
by Scott Krane

The Tel Aviv Family District Court has ruled that the literary estate of Max Brod, including the writings of his friend, famed author Franz Kafka, are to be transfered to the Israel National Library. The literary artifacts spent more than four decades in private hands, but on Sunday, Justice Talia Kopelman-Pardo said that the Brod collection should be handed to the Hebrew University's library.

The author Franz Kafka entrusted all his manuscripts and works to Max Brod and had instructed him to burn them after his death, which occurred at the age of 40 in 1924.

However, Brod ignored Kafka's wishes and instead, published the German-language works, considered classic literature of that century.

In 1939, Brod fled to British-ruled Palestine and when he died in 1968, he handed over his collection, including unpublished writings by Kafka, to his secretary, Esther Hoffe.

The court found that in his will, Brod explicitly ordered Hoffe to catalogue and transfer his valuable and irreplaceable collection "to the library of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem or the Tel Aviv municipal library, or (that of) any other public institution in Israel or abroad."

This, however, never happened. Instead Hoffe kept much of the collection locked away in private banks after selling a chunk of it.

In 2007, the Brod collection was passed on to Hoffe's two daughters, Eva Hoffe and Ruth Wiesler, who argued at the trial in 2008, that Brod's intention was to make the collection, including the Kafka writings, a gift to their mother; and therefore the collection was private and belonged to them. Earlier this year, one of the daughters passed away. Meanwhile, the German Literature Archive claimed that the collection belongs in Germany.

The Director of the Israel National library Oren Weinberg, praised the ruling in a statement in which he promised to post the collection online, "thus fulfilling Brod's wish of publishing Kafka's writings for all literature lovers in Israel and the world."