'Kafka's Lifelong Dream Was to Make Aliyah'

Remnants of Franz Kafka's estate found in Tel Aviv flat prompt speculation of writer's allegiance to Zionism.

The recent discovery of some of Franz Kafka's writings in a Tel Aviv apartment have prompted a resurgence of speculation into the writer's connection to his Jewish heritage and his allegiance to Zionism.

The New York Times this week cites a 1949 letter from Kafka's last lover Dora Diament to his close friend Max Brod, in which she claims that writer had always wanted "to make aliyah and come to Israel."

As reported last month in Haaretz, remnants of Kafka's estate can be found in a small apartment in the heart of Tel Aviv that belonged to Esther Hoffe, Brod's former secretary.

Last year, Hoffe died and the material was inherited by her two daughters, who are now are considering selling it.

The story of the lost estate was covered widely in the international media, and as a result the Archive of German Literature in Marbach, which possesses a selection of Kafka's letters, is now seeking to obtain the fragments of material from Israel.

Israel's state archivist, however, has said that "no material that is of importance to the history of the Jewish people will leave the State of Israel... We will not permit the materials' removal without fulfilling the law."

Kafka scholar Mark Gelber, a professor at Ben Gurion University told New York Times that the writer's "intimate connections to Zionism and Jews" was among the prime reasons his lost writings should remain in Israel.

"This material belongs in Jerusalem," he was quoted as saying. "Brod became a Zionist before the First World War, lived and worked here and is buried here. Less well known is the fact that Kafka was a totally engaged Jewish personality and writer with many intimate connections to Zionism and Jews."

But in his new book, "The Tremendous World I Have Inside My Head: Franz Kafka: A Biographical Essay," Louis Begley posits that despite the writer's preoccupation with his Jewish identity, he was neither a Zionist nor an active member of the Jewish community.

"I admire Zionism and am nauseated by it," Mr. Begley quotes from Kafka.

Gelber and other Kafka scholars say, however, that Kafka was not only devoted to Zionism and the study of Hebrew, but possessed a life-long dream to move to Israel.

Those arguing on behalf of Kafka's devotion to Judaism hope his works will stay in Israel to be included in the Zionist archives, but as of yet, the fate of this piece of his legacy remains unresolved.