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Kafka Laughs From The Grave

It might be cold comfort but not - I suspect - for Kafka. Such would appeal to him. If he knew that his friend, Brod, would not burn his manuscripts, yet asked him anyway, perhaps he had some inkling of the morass of trouble these manuscripts would make. Of course, Brod is dead, too. Perhaps there is a heavenly dig in the ribs as Kafka says to his friend: "I told you so."

At any rate, it seems that whatever these manuscripts are, they might finally become revealed. I know I'm dying to know. But when we finally get to see them seems to be a decision yet of the future.

Kafka's 1915 passport photo

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Israel must relinquish ownership over Kafka

By Benjamin Lazarus


With the impending verdict of a three year legal battle regarding Franz Kafka's unpublished papers due to be announced imminently; Israel hopes the decision will allow Kafka's work to be restored to the National Library of Israel. But the septuagenarian Eva Hoffe expects the court to prove she is the autonomous owner of Kafka's papers, thus allowing her to sell them to the German literary archive in Marbech.

In 2008, Eva and her sister Ruth Wiesler inherited the papers from their mother, Esther Hoffe, who had been secretary to Kafka's friend Max Brod. He left Kafka's papers to her in 1968. Following Ruth's death earlier this year, Eva became the sole owner of Kafka's work.

In spite of this, the Israeli National library believes Kafka is part of their heritage, and the chairman of the board of directors has argued: "The library does not intend to give up on cultural assets belonging to the Jewish people".

As previously pointed out by the Jewish writer, Anthony Lerman; if the Israeli National Library are allowed to claim Kafka as part of their heritage, then all Israeli institutions can thus make a claim to "practically any pre-Holocaust synagogue, artwork, manuscript or valuable ritual object in Europe'.

Many Jewish communities reject Israel's assumption that world Jewry's cultural assets belong to the Jewish state


This is based on the mistaken premise that Jewish work is only a consequence of the individual's Jewish heritage, which is a gross oversimplification, and an emotionally charged idea.

Since the fall of communism in Europe, this proprietary attitude has become increasingly orchestrated to the dismay of many Jewish communities, who reject Israel's assumption that world Jewry's cultural assets belong to the Jewish state. Rather, they rightly believe themselves to be autonomous societies that are capable of sustaining their own heritage.