Europe

Germany Hands over the papers of Kafka's Friend, Max Brod, to Israel

The archive will be safeguarded at Jerusalem's National Library where it can be made available to the public.

May 29th, 2019
Margareta Calugher, News from Berlin
20190529_Germany Hands over.jpg

On Tuesday, 21st of May, a ceremony was held in Berlin at the residence of Israeli Ambassador Jeremy Issacharoff where German police handed over thousands of Brod's personal papers.

Max Brod is the main responsible for having published many of Kafka’s works after his death in 1924, even though the writer had insisted his works be destroyed after his death.

Brod had fled from the Nazi regime to Tel Aviv in 1939, carrying Kafka's estate in his suitcase.

The manuscripts, including unpublished passages from Brod's diary and early  correspondence with his wife, as well as a postcard from Kafka sent to Brod in 1910, could provide further insight into the life of Kafka.

When Brod died in 1968, he left his personal papers and Kafka's manuscripts to his secretary Esther Hoffe. After her death in 2007, the papers went to her daughter Eva, from whom part of the collection was stolen. Over time, the collection was split into three locations: an Israeli bank vault, a Swiss bank safe in Zurich and Eva Hoffe's flat in Tel Aviv.

The significance of the papers emerged in 2013, when two Israelis approached the German Literary Archives in Marbach, and private collectors, with a huge collection of unpublished documents belonging to Brod.

According to the Israeli Embassy in Berlin "The authorities were notified and it became clear that the some 5,000 pages of documents were part of Brod's private archive and had been stolen .

Last January, the court of Wiesbaden decided that the papers should be handed back to Israel's national library. Dr. Stefan Litt, the library's archivist and humanities collection curator declared  that the correspondence found in the archive is extensive and impressive.

The ceremony ended a decade-long struggle to retrieve the missing Brod papers.

References

News from Berlin