Text size

Ceremonies were held around the world Thursday to commemorate what would have been the 125th birthday of Franz Kafka, the Prague-born writer who gained renown only after his death at 41.

Even today, 84 years after his death, many holes remain in his tragic life story. For years, researchers and academics have turned to a small apartment in Tel Aviv they believe houses the remainder of the author's estate.

The mysterious materials are part of the inheritance left by Kafka to his friend Max Brod, who published his writings in what was then Mandatory Palestine. After Brod's death in Tel Aviv in 1968, the inheritance was passed to his secretary, Esther Hoffe, who for years refused to allow researchers to view them.

She sold some of them at public auction, leaving her with significant profits. Others were smuggled out of Israel and placed in safekeeping in Switzerland.

Hoffe died this year, leaving the inheritance to her two daughters. Researchers are hoping they will now be given access to the materials, which will help shed light on Kafka's biography and will likely spark new interest in the author in the academic and literary worlds.