Kafka Heirs Given 15 Days Before Vaults Made Public

Judge rules that if negotiations fail vaults containing manuscripts will be opened without the sisters' consent.

BERLIN - Significant progress was made yesterday in the case concerning the rights to the literary estates of Franz Kafka and Max Brod. Tel Aviv Family Court gave the heirs of Max Brod's estate - the sisters Eva Hoffe and Ruth Wisler - 15 days to come to an arrangement with the representatives of the state and the National Library with regard to the material in their possession.

Judge Talia Pardo Kupelman ruled that if negotiations fail, five vaults in various banks in Tel Aviv, containing the manuscripts of the two Czech writers, will be opened without the sisters' consent in the presence of both a representative of the State Archive and the court-appointed executor of the estate.

When the case first came before family court in Tel Aviv last year, the court ordered that the vaults be opened within two weeks. After a full inventory of the vaults' contents is submitted to the court, it will rule on whether the material will remain in private hands or be transfered to the National Library or to a literary archive in Germany.

Another important move yesterday was the dismissal of the Hoffe sisters' lawyer, Jeshayah Etgar. The reason for the dismissal was not given during the court session, but the sisters' new lawyer, Oded Cohen, told Haaretz yesterday that progress was being made toward a compromise.

The new executor of the estate, attorney Shmulik Cassouto, and his representative attorney Dan Novhari, have also made progress - receiving the keys to the vaults and a tour of the apartment on Spinoza Street in Tel Aviv where Max Brod's secretary, Esther Hoffe lived, and where Brod's and Kafka's manuscripts were kept.