Israel wants Kafka manuscript returned


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel is demanding that Germany return the original manuscript of Franz Kafka’s "The Trial."

The manuscript was brought to Tel Aviv from Prague in 1939, but was sold to Germany in 1988 for $2 million and now sits in the German Museum of Modern Literature. But the Israel National Library says the manuscript was illegally sold, the Israeli daily Ha’aretz reported.

Kafka’s close friend and executor of his will, Max Brod, inherited Kafka’s works but instead of burning them as the writer requested, published "The Trial." He took the original manuscript and other Kafka papers with him to Palestine, and when he died in 1969 he left them to his secretary, Esther Hoffe.

Hoffe sold "The Trial" manuscript at Sotheby’s Auction House in London to the German government.

But in his will, Brod had asked for all the manuscripts and other papers in his estate to be kept at the National Library in Jerusalem or some other public archive in Israel or abroad. The library has filed suit against Hoffe’s daughters, Eva Hoffe and Ruti Wisler, who they say continue to sell pieces of Brod’s estate, according to Ha’aretz.

Recommended from JTA