Franz Kafka
Franz Kafka
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BERLIN - A judge at Tel Aviv District Family Court on Tuesday rejected a request for a gag order on the contents of a box containing manuscripts written by Franz Kafka. Eva Hoffe, the Israeli woman who inherited the documents, was asked to pay court costs to the National Library and attorney Ehud Sol, the manager of the estate of Kafka's close friend Max Brod.

Judge Talia Pardo also instructed attorneys Tuesday to prepare a detailed list of the items in the safe deposit boxes to be published, which include all documents except the personal items of Esther Hoffe, Eva's mother, who served as Brod's secretary. Details on the other items - manuscripts by Kafka, Brod and others - will all ultimately be published.

Haaretz and the National Library appealed separately against the effort to prevent the publication of the contents of the safe deposit boxes.

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."

Haaretz has learned that a huge amount of documents found in the safe deposit boxes are letters and manuscripts belonging to Kafka and Brod. Also in the box is a never before seen handwritten manuscript of a previously published short story by Kafka.

From a research point of view, the handwritten manuscript is of great value since Kafka's publications over the years had been edited by Brod.

Several more safe deposit boxes are due to be opened by court officials and lawyers in Tel Aviv, where more documents and manuscripts of the two authors are expected to be found.

News in Haaretz yesterday about the uncovering of sealed Franz Kafka manuscripts in safe deposit boxes in Zurich and Tel Aviv have made headlines worldwide.

The BBC aired a special report on the case, in which experts and researchers discussed whether the manuscripts by the Jewish Czech author, who died in 1924, should be published, or destroyed, as he wished in his will.

The daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reminded its readers that "Israel is not the only one who wants the manuscripts," commenting on the legal struggle between the National Library in Jerusalem and the Archive of German Literature at Marbach, Germany.

Other newspapers in Europe reported extensively on the story and added to the build-up ahead of revelations on the actual contents of the safe deposit boxes.

Even the Tehran Times reported on the story in its cultural news page.