AG: Kafka Manuscripts Belong to Public, Must Remain in Israel

Manuscripts part of literary estate of Kafka's close friend Max Brod, which have been at the center of a legal battle; Attorney General Weinstein says works should be held by National Library in Jerusalem.

Ofer Aderet
Ofer Aderet
Ofer Aderet
Ofer Aderet

The manuscripts of Franz Kafka belong to the public and should be held in public trust by the National Library in Jerusalem, Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein argued last week in an opinion presented in family court.

The works in question, part of the literary estate of Kafka's close friend Max Brod, who died in Tel Aviv in 1968, have been at the center of a legal battle after the two daughters of Esther Hoffe, Brod's secretary, claimed she had willed the manuscripts to them, a position the National Library opposed.

Franz Kafka

Weinstein noted that Brod's will stated that "manuscripts, letters and other documents will be given over for safekeeping to the Library of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem or the Municipal Library of Tel Aviv or another public archive in Israel or outside Israel."

The center of his life

He said, "It seems that the deceased, who was Jewish and a Zionist and who came to Israel after Prague was taken over by the Nazis, would have wanted his literary estate to be kept in the State of Israel, which was the center of his life and was where he died."

Weinstein added that the fact that out of four possibilities Brod mentioned in his will, three were in Israel, also clearly signaled the author's desire.

Weinstein also said the document should not be sold, since Brod's will specifically states that the materials are to be "given over," indicating that Brod did not intend for any kind of financial transaction to be involved in the library's obtaining of the manuscripts.

Weinstein claimed the Hoffe sisters had not proven that they had received some of the manuscripts from their mother as a gift, and said their argument for the annulment of the parts of Hoffe's will that contradicted Brod's should be rejected.

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