Franz Kafka
Author Franz Kafka Photo by Archive
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A large number of letters to and from Franz Kafka and his close friend Max Brod, some of them from well-known authors, have been found in safe deposit boxes recently opened in Tel Aviv and Zurich. This material could keep literary researchers and historians busy for many months, according to sources familiar with the subject who spoke to Haaretz on Thursday.

Among the papers found in the sealed boxes were letters to or from Stefan


Zweig, the Jewish Austrian novelist, playwright, journalist and biographer,
and Israeli writer and poet Shin Shalom.

The safe deposit boxes contained a huge number of Kafka and Brod's letters and manuscripts, including a never before seen handwritten anuscript of a previously published short story by Kafka. The handwritten manuscript is of great research value since Kafka's publications over the years had been edited by Brod, who was also the author's executor.

The safe deposit boxes' content was released for publication after a Tel Aviv court earlier this week rejected a gag order requested by Eva Hoffe, the Israeli woman who inherited the documents from her mother, Esther Hoffe.

Brod left his estate to Esther Hoffe, who had served as his secretary.

The literary treasure was discovered during the trial that has been underway for two years over Brod's estate, whose contents were held in a number of safe-deposit boxes in Israel and Switzerland under Eva Hoffe's control.

The National Library and Haaretz, which has been following the story of Kafka's estate and the trial over the manuscripts, appealed separately against the effort to prevent publication of the safe deposit boxes' contents.

David Bloomberg, chairman of the National Library, said yesterday that the library will continue its legal struggle to publish the manuscripts.

"The library does not intend to give up on cultural assets belonging to the Jewish people," he said. "Because it is not a commercial institution and the items kept there are accessible to all without cost, the library will continue its efforts to gain transfer of the manuscripts that have been found."