Israel in legal battle over Kafka's papers

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Imagine a number of safety deposit boxes, in different banks in different countries. No-one is quite sure what's inside them.

Yet private individuals, state bodies and commercial institutions are locked in a seemingly endless legal battle to own their contents.

Sounds like a Kafka novel? Well, almost.

This is a struggle between Israel and Germany, between a Jewish refugee family from Prague and Israeli public opinion over a collection of papers that might include unpublished works by the celebrated 20th Century writer Franz Kafka.

Kafka became famous in spite of himself. Just before he died in 1924, the young novelist, who suffered from various mental and physical illnesses, entrusted his friend, Max Brod, with a collection of handwritten documents.

He asked him to destroy the unpublished manuscripts after his death. Brod ignored his friend's last wishes, allowing the world to enjoy great works such as The Trial and Metamorphosis....

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