The participants will discuss the decades-long legal dispute in Israel’s Supreme Court over the legacy of Franz Kafka, which only ended in 2019. Kafka had instructed during his lifetime that his friend Max Brod should burn all his writings after his death. However, Brod published many of his works, without which the world would probably have known much less of Kafka. With Brod’s death in 1968, the dispute over his private archive began, some of which was stolen and offered for sale in Germany. Following the 2019 ruling, the National Library in Jerusalem exhibited Kafka’s manuscripts, letters and drawings. This ends an absurd Israeli-German crime thriller about friendship, the economization of art, cultural Zionism and postmortem Judaism.


Benjamin Balint is a writer living in Jerusalem. He is the author of »Kafka’s Last Trial«, originally published in German by Berenberg Verlag as »Kafkas letzter Prozess« and is co-author of »Jerusalem: City of the Book, published by Yale University Press. He taught literature in the Bard College humanities program at Al-Quds University. His essays appear in The Wall Street Journal, Haaretz and Die Zeit and his translations from the Hebrew have been published in The New Yorker, among others.

Tomer Dotan-Dreyfus is a writer, poet and scholar of comparative literature, originally from Haifa. He studied philosophy and literature in Berlin, Vienna and Paris and is currently part of Berlin Senate’s scholarship program for authors in the German language. He writes in both Hebrew and German and has been published in magazines such as Spitz, Iton77, HaMussach and Triëdere.

Dr. Caroline Jessen works at the German Literature Archive in Marbach. After studying literature and art history, she completed her PhD at Bonn University and coordinated »Traces of German-Jewish History« (2012–2015), a project dedicated to cataloguing and researching archives of German-Jewish writers & scholars in Israel. As a member of the Marbach Weimar Wolfenbüttel Research Association, her work has focused on dispersed archives and libraries, with a strong interest in political and hermeneutic aspects of »provenance«. Publications include »Der Sammler Karl Wolfskehl« (Berlin, Suhrkamp 2018) and »Kanon im Exil« (Göttingen: Wallstein 2019).

Dr. Stefan Litt is the curator for general humanities and an archival expert at the National Library of Israel, where he manages European language holdings including works from Martin Buber, Stefan Zweig and Max Brod, among others. After receiving his PhD in premodern Jewish history from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a post-doctoral degree from Graz University, he conducted research and worked as a visiting professor at the universities of Erfurt and Dusseldorf in Germany, at the University of Graz in Austria, as well as at the universities of Jerusalem and Bar-Ilan in Israel. His work focuses on the history of early modern European Jewry and on modern Jewish archival collections.

Benjamin Balint, Dr. Stefan Litt, Dr. Caroline Jessen

Tomer Dotan-Dreyfus

© Benjamin Balint

Benjamin Balint

© Israeli National Library

Dr. Stefan Litt

© Dr. Caroline Jessen

Dr. Caroline Jessen

© Roni Zachor Barak

Tomer Dotan-Dreyfus

free admission

Sun 26 April 18:00

radialsystem Studio B

Free admission

1 hour 30 minutes