Posted on May 23, 2019 at 4:00 PM by Sadye Scott-Hainchek

Israel’s National Library will soon have some 40,000 documents kept by a confidant of Franz Kafka, many of which come from the author himself.

The drama all began nearly a hundred years ago, when Kafka’s friend Max Brod was supposed to have burned his manuscripts upon his 1924 death.

Instead, Brod kept them, published them, and included them in his literary estate.

Brod’s secretary, Esther Hoffe, who was in charge of his estate, also ignored the directions associated with the papers, selling some and keeping others rather than transferring them to an academic institution.

Hoffe’s descendants have fought to keep what they inherited from that pile, though a Swiss court has upheld Israeli rulings that they belong to that nation.

Additionally, a batch of the papers were stolen from Hoffe’s apartment in Germany; these 5,000 items, mostly relating to Blod, were recently recovered and handed over to the Israeli library.

You can read the journey of the German documents as told by The Associated Press and catch up on the Swiss papers’ saga in a recent article from the Guardian.  

Categories: Today in Books

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