Israel in legal battle over Kafka papers

Jan. 6, 2010 at 6:34 PM

TEL AVIV, Israel, Jan. 6 (UPI) -- A battle is on in Israel over unpublished papers of Franz Kafka that could offer new insights into the writer of "The Trial" and "Metamorphosis," experts say.

The papers in safe deposit boxes in Tel Aviv are at the center of a legal battle between Israel and the heirs of Kafka's literary executor, Max Brod, The Washington Post reported Wednesday.

Academics say the papers could contain unpublished letters and writings by Kafka, a Czechoslovakian Jew who died 85 years ago, and would be a literary gold mine, the newspaper said.

Israel contends Brod, who died in 1968, meant to transfer the papers to a private archive or university in Israel.

A statement by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's office said the documents "are valuable for the history of the Jewish people and the state," and "The state archivist is of the opinion that it is better that these materials not be removed outside of Israel," the Post reported.

But the heirs of the executor, who fled to Israel in the late 1930s to escape the Nazis in Czechoslovakia, say the documents are the private property of the family.

An Israeli family court judge will rule on the 40-year dispute over the executor's will, the Post said.

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