Franz Kafka papers moving to Israel’s national library

Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Papers belonging to writer Franz Kafka will be transferred to the National Library of Israel in Jerusalem, Israel’s Supreme Court ruled.

The papers are part of the estate of writer Max Brod, a friend and biographer of Kafka. Brod brought the papers with him to Palestine in 1939 when he fled Prague to escape the Nazis. They have been the subject of a years-long custody battle between the family of Esther Hoffe, Brod’s secretary, and the National Library.

The Supreme Court made its decision in June but only published it on Monday, Haaretz reported. Two lower courts had ruled in the national library’s favor.

Shortly before his death, Kafka left the papers to Brod, who contrary to Kafka’s wishes to burn them published what are now many of his most famous works. The papers and the rest of Brod’s possessions were passed on to Hoffe, who died in 2007 and passed them down to her daughter Eva.


Brod, who died in 1968 in Tel Aviv, had bequeathed the manuscripts to the national library in his will.

Eva and her sister, Ruth Wiesler, began selling off pieces of Brod’s estate and planned to sell the papers to the German Literary Archive in Marbach until the library demanded the rights to them.

The papers are currently sitting in bank vaults in Tel Aviv and Switzerland.

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