Franz Kafka, Max Brod works go to Israel National Library: Court

Oct. 15, 2012 at 4:20 PM

TEL AVIV, Israel, Oct. 15 (UPI) -- Ownership of Franz Kafka's and Max Brod's literary works will be transferred from private hands to Jerusalem's Israeli National Library, a court ruled.

The Tel Aviv District Family Court ended a decades-long legal dispute over the rare documents and manuscripts, between the current holders of the literary trove, two Tel Aviv sisters who inherited it from their mother, Brod's secretary, and the National Library, which insisted Brod had bequeathed the collection, as well as his own work, in his will, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported Monday.

Kafka originally gave the works to his longtime friend Brod, with instructions to burn them after his death in 1924. While Kafka posthumously became one of the world's most significant writers, Brod chose not to destroy the works but published them in their totality. Brod died in 1968, leaving the collection to his secretary Esther Hoffe, with instructions it eventually be donated to a public institution. After her death it fell into possession of Hoffe's daughters, Ava Hoffe and Anita Ruth Vizler of Tel Aviv, who fought the National Library's attempt to claim it, The Jerusalem Post said Monday.

Judge Talia Pardo Kupelman wrote, in her ruling, "This case, complicated by passions, was argued in court for quite a long time ... not every day, and most definitely not as a matter of routine, does the opportunity befall a judge to delve into the depth of history."

She added the trial opened "a window into the lives, desires, frustrations and souls of two of the greatest thinkers of the 20th century."

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