Sunday, October 14, 2012

Kafka Stays in Israel

Judge Talya Kopelman-Pardo of the court for family affairs in Tel Aviv this morning handed down her decision in the case of the papers of Franz Kafka. A few years back the New York Times had a long and fascinating article about the trial, which is worth re-reading now that the court has decided.

The story in a nutshell: As he was dying in 1924, Franz Kafka told his close friend Max Brod to burn all his papers after his death. Brod didn't, thank God. Many years later, when the time came for him to write his own will, he made a hash of it. He left his personal belongings to one Esther Hoffe, along with instructions about how she should dispose of his and Kafka's writings. Hoffe then lived till the age of 101 without having fulfilled his request, at which point her own heirs (two elderly daughters) inherited the whole shebang and tried to sell the collection, presumably to an archives in Marburg, Germany. At this point a seven-sided court case was launched to determine if the papers could be sold, or if they should be transfered to the National Library in Jerusalem where Bord had once worked, or perhaps to some other public institution.

The ISA determined early on that it would not join the proceeedings, and since the National Library was the main Israeli claimant, we would not request that the colleection end up with us. At various point in the saga we supplied support where needed (one of the experts sent to examine the contents of some deposit boxes in various banks was the head of our laboratory, for example).

Apparently the judge has decided that the National Library will get the collection.

If you're interested in the whole decision, and are willing to learn Hebrew to read it: here it is.


  1. then lets hope that Israel's National Library will soon join forces with these two and that adorers of Kafka will soon be told what were the contents of that suit case the contents of which, if I remember correctly, none of the claimants has ever seen.

  2. sorry, there is no transcript but since the archive, meaning presumably you, is mentioned and since the accusation is made that Israel treats Holocaust survivors with less consideration than Germany does ...

    this is the teaser I was provided with in iTunes

    Max Brod Nachlass bleibt in Israel - Kafka-Herausgeber H.G. Koch im Gespräch