Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Kafka's Writings Tied Up In Court

Franz kafkaTen safety deposit boxes full of never-published Franz Kafka writings are trapped in an Israeli court. These papers could potentially shed light on the mysterious author. Here’s how the papers ended up where they are today:

  • Kafka bequeathed his writings to Max Brod, instructing him to burn everything unread.
  • When Kafka passed away in 1924 from tuberculosis, Brod ignored Kafka’s wishes and published most of what he had. He took what he didn’t publish to pre-state Israel where he passed away in 1968.
  • Brod instructed Esther Hoffe to transfer the Kafka papers to an academic institution upon his death. Instead, Esther kept the papers in Tel Aviv and Zurich, selling some for large amounts of money.
  • Esther died three years ago, leaving her collection to her two daughters, Eva Hoffe and Ruth Wiesler.

The two daughters are currently battling the Israeli National Library which has filed an injunction against the execution of their mother’s will. The Tel Aviv Family Court opened the collection a year ago, saying that it wants to know its contents before deciding the owner. Until experts are done inspecting the papers, the papers, as well as their rightful owner, will remain a mystery.

See Aron Heller, Lost Kafka Writings Resurface, Trapped in Trial, AP, July 21, 2010.

Special thanks to Kimberly Sias (Texas Tech School of Law graduate, May 2010) for bringing this article to my attention.


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