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  Kafka Project Discoveries
 


Reports   Lask Collection   Kafka's Hairbrush
Dora's Papers   Kafka Letters    Diamant & Lask Families

"There is always something unaccounted for."
   --Franz Kafka, Conversations with Kafka


REPORTS
 
Kafka Project Alert:

Designed to identify Kafka's missing papers, the Kafka Project Alert describes the missing material, with samples of Kafka's and Dora's handwriting, names and addresses likely to appear on the envelopes, ownership and contact information should anything be found. The KP Alert is being translated into German, Polish, Czech and Slovakian to be delivered to archivists at archives, repositories and libraries throughout Eastern Europe between June and July 2008.Click here to view it.

Berlin Research 1998:
From June to September, the Kafka Project visited German Government Archives, Libraries, Civil Records Offices and Jewish Cultural Organizations. The entire 40-page Kafka Report is available upon request for the cost of printing and shipping. The Resources Report is available for download here.

Hundreds of archival files were examined and detailed notes taken. For a list of relevant file contents, click here.

Many documents were photocopied, like the Gestapo Loss of Nationality and Property Confiscation Order, signed by Dr. Werner Best, with Dora's name on the list.

 

Confiscation Order - May not be reprinted without permission.
Confiscation Order

 

Dora's Confiscation Order - May not be reprinted without permission.
Dora Confiscation Order

Kafka and the Third Reich
Written in 1998 for the Stiftung Topographie des Terrors, Berlin's museum of Nazi History, this report details the loss of Kafka's writings and the work of the Kafka Project to recover them. Click here to download.


LASK COLLECTION:
The Family Photographs of Marianne Lask

In September 1998, the Kafka Project uncovered 60 previously unknown photographs of Dora Diamant, her husband Lutz Lask, who survived a Siberian gulag, and daughter Franziska Marianne Lask, plus other Lask family members, including the matriarch and East German Communist heroine, Berta Lask. The Lask Collection is registered with the Library of Congress. Contact us for complete list and permission to reprint.

Dora Diamant and her infact daugher in Berlin, 1934
Dora Diamant and her infant daughter in Berlin, 1934 © Lask Collection

Berta Lask was a beloved Communist writer, who refused to leave the Soviet Union without her son's Lutz's release. © Lask Collection
Berta Lask was a beloved Communist writer, who refused to leave the Soviet Union without her son's Lutz's release. © Lask Collection

Dora Diamant and Marianne in Russia, 1938 © Lask Collection
Dora Diamant and Marianne in Russia, 1938 © Lask Collection

Marianne Lask passport photo for her first trip to East Berlin, 1956 © Lask Collection
Marianne Lask passport photo for her first trip to East Berlin, 1956 © Lask Collection

Lutz Lask, after release from Soviet Union, 1956 © Lask Collection
Lutz Lask, after release from Soviet Union, 1956 © Lask Collection



KAFKA'S HAIRBRUSH
With a research grant from Hadassah International Research Institute at Brandeis University, in 2000 Kathi Diamant visited the Kibbutz En Charod in Israel where Dora stayed in 1950, and met a surviving daughter of the family with whom Dora lived, who shared two possessions Dora left with them for safekeeping: a framed photograph of Kafka and Kafka's hairbrush, the only personal item of his known to survive.

The framed photograph Dora gave to the Maletz family. She left an identical photograph with her sister Sara Baumer in Tel Aviv.
The framed photograph Dora gave to the Maletz family. She left an identical photograph with her sister Sara Baumer in Tel Aviv. © Archiv Klaus Wagenbach.
Dora with Ruhama Maletz, En Charold Kibbutz, 1950. Dora with the wife of David Maletz, Dora's Hebrew teacher from Bedzin, Poland. The hairbrush was a family secret until after Ruhama's death in 1992.
Dora with Ruhama Maletz, En Charold Kibbutz, 1950. Dora with the wife of David Maletz, Dora's Hebrew teacher from Bedzin, Poland. The hairbrush was a family secret until after Ruhama's death in 1992. © Noga Maletz.

 

Kafka's military-style hairbrush made by G.B. Kent & Sons, established 1777 in England.

Kafka's military-style hairbrush made by G.B. Kent & Sons, established 1777 in England.
Kafka's military-style hairbrush made by G.B. Kent & Sons, established 1777 in England. © Kathi Diamant.

DORA'S PAPERS
Dora's cahier, or diary, missing for almost 50 years, was uncovered, along with 15 letters to Marthe Robert, Kafka's French translator, written between 1951-1952, in Paris. Two years later, a second diary was discovered by Klaus Wagenbach, which had laid forgotten in archive in Berlin. These diaries, written in the last year of her life, represent Dora's attempt to "say once what is necessary to say about Kafka. Everything. Without reservation." In January 2000, working with professional archival researchers, Dora's secret 35-page file from the Comintern in the Central Archives of the Communist Party in Moscow was obtained.

Page 9 of Dora's cahier, her Kafka diary, begun on her birthday in 1951, when she learned she was dying.
Page 9 of Dora's cahier, her Kafka diary, begun on her birthday in 1951, when she learned she was dying. © Diamant Family.

KAFKA LETTERS
In 2004, three original Kafka letters, written in 1924 in Berlin to Ludwig Hardt were found in private hands in Tierrasanta, in San Diego, California. Before the owners decided to sell the letters at auction, copies of the originals were made and given to the Kafka Critical Edition Archives at Wuppertal, Germany.

 

These letters are © Kafka Estate and may not be printed without permission.

Page 1 - © Kafka Estate and may not be printed without permission.

Page 2 © Kafka Estate and may not be printed without permission.

Page 3 © Kafka Estate and may not be printed without permission.

One of Kafka's favorite books, Hebel's Schatzkaestlein, published in 1859, with a personal inscription by Kafka, sold at auction in 2005.

© Kafka Estate and may not be printed without permission.

DIAMANT AND LASK FAMILIES
The Berlin research revealed the existence of Dora's living family members, beginning in September 1998 with her only living nephew Zvi Diamant, born in 1947 in the release camp at Dachau. Upon learning about his cousins, the Lasks in Berlin, he flew to Berlin to meet them. Following a Tel Aviv newspaper article about Zvi's discovery of his relationship to Dora, he was contacted by Dora's half-sister Sara, who, unknown to him, lived less than ten miles away. Within days Zvi, who thought his father's family all dead, was reunited with his long lost aunt and cousins. On August 15, 1999, 49 years after her death, Dora's family from Israel and Germany were joined by more than 75 people from around the world at a stone setting ceremony at Dora's unmarked grave in East Ham.

Dora's sister, Sara Baumer with her daughter Tova Perlmutter and Zvi Diamant at the August 15th ceremony at the United Synagogue Cemetery on Marlow Road.
Dora's sister, Sara Baumer with her daughter Tova Perlmutter and Zvi Diamant at the August 15th ceremony at the United Synagogue Cemetery on Marlow Road.
Ruth Lask, Dora's great-niece, Kathi Diamant and Zvi Diamant, August 11, 1999, the day the stone was placed.
Ruth Lask Kessentini, Dora's great-niece, Kathi Diamant and Zvi Diamant, August 11, 1999, the day the stone was placed.
 

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