The first shipment of items from the literary estate of Max Brod, the friend and literary executor of author Franz Kafka, was received by Israel’s National Library last week, Haaretz reported Tuesday. The shipment, which was received after being awarded to the library in a court ruling, contains papers from Kafka, one of the 20th century’s most influential writers.
The papers were finally delivered to the library after protracted legal battles involving Brod’s secretary Esther Hoffe, who shared Kafka’s manuscripts with her two daughters, ignoring Brod’s instructions to donate them to “the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the municipal library in Tel Aviv or another organization in Israel or abroad.” Israel’s Supreme Court ruled in August that that the manuscripts belong to the National Library. In 2009, Hoffe’s daughters denied the State of Israel’s demand that they turn over the documents, saying they belonged to their mother and were hers to do with as she saw fit.
In its August ruling, the Supreme Court stated that Brod “did not want his property to be sold at the best price, but for them to find an appropriate place in a literary and cultural institution.” Prior to his death, Kafka had instructed Brod to burn the manuscripts after his death, a request Brod ignored, taking the papers with him when fleeing the Nazi invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1939.
The Kafka documents at the National Library will be accessible to the public, according to board chairman David Blumberg, who said the library will “obey the court’s ruling and ensure the papers’ preservation.”
Kafka, who died in 1924 of tuberculosis at 40, is the author of such works as “The Trial” and “The Metamorphosis.”