Writer manuscripts to go to Israel's national library

After a long legal battle, Franz Kafka’s manuscripts would be deposited at the Israel’s national library

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After a long legal battle, Franz Kafka’s manuscripts would be deposited at the Israel’s national library. The court ordered that the rare collection of Franz Kafka’s manuscripts should be deposited at the country’s national library, ending a long legal battle worthy of one of the Prague-born writer’s complex stories.

The judgment, published on Wednesday, ordered Tel Aviv resident Eva Hoffe to hand all the papers in her possession to the National Library of Israel.

Kafka died in 1924, with most of his work published after his death.

The author of “The Metamorphosis”, who wrote in German, entrusted his manuscripts and works to his friend, Max Brod, and instructed him to burn them after his passing.

But Brod did not honour Kafka’s wishes, and took the papers with him to Palestine when he fled Nazi persecution in 1939.

Brod, who died in 1968, bequeathed the Kafka collection, including unpublished writings, to his secretary, Esther Hoffe. She was to “publish his work and ensure after her death that his literary estate be placed for safekeeping in a suitable institution,” the court record showed.

In 1973, after word got out that Hoffe had offered Kafka manuscripts for auction overseas, Israel’s attorney general warned her that, “according to Brod’s will, she must not dispose of any of the documents.”

When Esther Hoffe died in 2007, the collection passed to her two daughters, one of whom has also since died.

The pair started legal proceedings in 2008 claiming that the papers belonged to them.

In 2012, a court rejected the claim and, in this week’s 62-page ruling, the Tel Aviv district court upheld that decision, rejecting an appeal by Eva Hoffe, the surviving daughter.

It accepted the library’s argument that “Brod’s last wish was that his life’s work, his material legacy, should be entrusted in its entirety to public archives.”

It said the Hoffe family kept the bulk of the collection locked away in bank safety deposit boxes and had sold parts of it to the highest bidder.

Some of Kafka’s writings ended up in the collection of the German Literature Archive in Marbach.

The Israeli national library says it will eventually post the collection online.

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