Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Daughter of the Secretary of Max Brod Must Relinquish Kafka Papers

Franz KafkaThe daughter of the former secretary of Max Brod, a friend of Franz Kafka, had possession of the Kafka Papers, which were written by the late author with the help of Mr. Brod. In total, the collection of the papers is expansive. In fact, the collection of papers also includes tens of thousands of pages that Mr. Brod wrote while he carried Mr. Kafka works with him in his suitcase. The collection also included "letters, diaries, sketches and notations by Kafka." Mr. Brod was the administrator of the Kafka estate and managed the letter until he died in 1968. Upon his death, he bequeathed his secretary, Esther Hoffe, the papers. She decided to store the papers within her apartment in Tel Aviv. Before the recent court case, Ms. Hoffe decided to sell some of the papers for millions of dollars. When the secretary died, she gave the papers to her daughter. 

Now an Israeli judge has ruled that the daughter must relinquish the papers to either a Jewish public library or an archive in Palestine. Later, the judge "specified [the] Hebrew University, where Israel's national library is housed." Particularly, the court rejected the claim that the papers were a gift from the secretary to her daughter. Instead, the court determined that the daughter was only holding the papers in trust for the estate. According to the New York Times, "Ms. Hoffe plans to appeal the decision."

See Jodi Rudoren & Myra Noveck, Woman Must Relinquish Kafka Papers, Judge Says, New York Times, Oct. 14, 2012.

Special thanks to Vivian Curran (Professor of Law, University of Pittsburgh School of Law) and Brian Cohan (Attorney at Law, Law Offices of Brian J. Cohan, P.C.) for bringing this article to my attention. 


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