German museum asked to hand back author's disputed manuscript to correct 'historical error'
Rory McCarthy in Jerusalem
The Observer, Sunday 25 October 2009
Israel's National Library is calling on a German museum to hand over the original manuscript of Franz Kafka's novel The Trial to correct a "historical error", in the latest unravelling of a complex dispute over the writer's legacy.
Kafka died from tuberculosis in 1924, leaving a surprising set of instructions to Brod: "Dearest Max, My last request: Everything I leave behind me [is] to be burned unread." But Brod instead published for the first time Kafka's novels The Trial, The Castle and Amerika.
In 1939 Brod fled his home in Prague as the Nazis approached and took a single suitcase of Kafka papers to Tel Aviv, where he started a new life. He later donated manuscripts of The Castle and Amerika to Oxford University, but kept the original of The Trial for himself.
After the death of his wife, Brod began a relationship with his assistant, Esther Hoffe. When he died in 1968, he left a will that is now hotly disputed.