Brod's intention was first and foremost to deposit the archive in the library in Jerusalem, where the archives of his close friends are located," writes Cohen in the deposition. In 1968, shortly before Brod's death, Cohen met him in the manuscripts and archives wing of the National Library.
"From my conversation with Brod it was entirely clear to me that he had already decided earlier to deposit his archive in the library. ... His visit to the department was meant to take care of the technical details involved in the proper handling of the archive," she said.
In 2008, when the sisters tried to probate their mother’s will, they were opposed by the National Library. The library contends that Brod left the Kafka papers to Esther Hoffe as an executor rather than as a beneficiary, meaning that, after Hoffe’s death, the papers reverted to the Brod estate. Brod’s will, dated 1961, specifies that his literary estate be placed “with the library of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the Municipal Library in Tel Aviv or another public archive in Israel or abroad.” The Municipal Library in Tel Aviv has renounced any claim to the estate, making the Hebrew University Library — today, the National Library of Israel — the only claimant specifically named by Brod.
The National Library’s argument is complicated by Brod’s so-called gift letter of 1952. The most crucial and enigmatic document in the case, it appears to give all of the Kafka papers outright, during Brod’s lifetime, to Esther Hoffe. The sisters presented the court with a two-page photocopy of this letter. The National Library, however, produced a photocopy of a four-page version of the letter, of which the two missing middle pages appear to clarify the limitations of Brod’s gift. When the court ordered a forensic examination, the sisters were unable to produce the original letter.
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