Franz Kafka's Works Housed in Four Swiss Bank Vaults, Not Just One

BERLIN - Works by the writers Franz Kafka and his longtime friend Max Brod are secreted in four Swiss bank vaults rather than just one, as had previously been thought, according to information that came to light yesterday in a court hearing on the disposition of the estate of Brod's secretary.

It now appears that Kafka's and Brod's works are in six safe-deposit boxes in Tel Aviv and four in Switzerland.

Until now the National Library, which is working to gain possession of the manuscripts, had thought most of the literary treasures were in banks in Tel Aviv and that only a small portion were in Switzerland.

The additional manuscripts were located by the executor of the will of Brod's secretary, Esther Hoffe.

"We can open the vaults in Switzerland," the executor, Shmuel Cassouto, told the Ramat Gan family court yesterday.

Meir Heller, a lawyer representing the National Library, told Haaretz he was "amazed" at the revelation of the existence of additional safe-deposit boxes in Switzerland.

"After repeated delays, the National Library's claim has been proven that there are additional vaults in Switzerland that certainly contain original manuscripts," Heller said. "We expect these vaults to be opened, as we also expect those in Israel to be opened. Without a doubt this is a true cultural treasure that the world will now be able to receive."

The lawyer for Hava Hoffe, Esther Hoffe's daughter, told Haaretz the court has not yet allowed his client to receive the money left to her by her mother, although she is destitute.

Hava Hoffe is demanding that her mother's estate, including the manuscripts, be turned over to her.

The National Library and Israel's custodian general want to take possession of them as a cultural treasure of the Jewish people.

The matter has been in litigation for two years.