Court orders Kafka manuscripts sent to National Library

The court order puts an end to what can be said to be a years-long Kafkaesque courtroom saga.

Israel’s Supreme Court on Monday gave its final ruling on a long dispute and ordered that a collection of Franz Kafka’s manuscripts be transferred to the National Library and that it is the property of the State of Israel.

The ruling orders an Israeli family currently in possession of the works to turn them over to the library.

The library is “the preferred location” for the trove of unpublished Kafka works, the National Library stated Tuesday. The library says it will make the manuscripts accessible to the general public.

Two lower courts have previously made the same ruling in a legal battle that began in 2009.

Eva Hoffe received the manuscripts, among other works, from her mother, the secretary of Kafka confidant Dr. Max Brod, who kept and published Kafka’s works after his death, even though Kafka ordered they be burned. Brod took them with him when he fled the Nazi invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1939 and emigrated to then British Mandate of Palestine.

On his death in 1968, Brod bequeathed the papers to his secretary Hoffe, with instructions to give them to the “Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the municipal library in Tel Aviv or another organization in Israel or abroad.”

The family had argued that it was in rightful possession of the manuscripts. The papers are estimated to be worth millions of dollars. The family has already sold some of the papers.

“Max Brod did not want his property to be sold at the best price, but for them to find an appropriate place in a literary and cultural institution,” the Supreme Court said in its ruling.

By: Aryeh Savir, World Israel News