"Believing in progress does not mean believing that any progress has yet been made.
That is not the sort of belief that indicates real faith."
--Franz Kafka, Blue Octavo Notebooks
WHAT IS THE KAFKA PROJECT?
The Kafka Project is the official international search on behalf of the Kafka Estate for the writer Franz Kafka’s lost papers, confiscated from Kafka’s last companion, Dora Diamant, by the Nazis in Berlin in 1933. Begun in 1997, the Kafka Project is a non-profit volunteer organization, under the umbrella of the San Diego State University Research Foundation, and is funded by donations, grants and generous sharing of resources, skills and knowledge.
WHO IS KAFKA?
Franz Kafka (1883-1924) is considered a 20th Century literary genius, credited as the father of the modern novel. His short stories include “The Metamorphosis” and the posthumously published novels, The Castle, and The Trial. Kafka was born in Prague, wrote in German, and died penniless of tuberculosis at the age of 40. According to his 1000-page bibliography, a new book has been written on Kafka every 10 days for the past 14 years. Dozens of Kafka biographies have been written, from the first by Max Brod in 1937 to the most detailed by Reiner Stach.
WHAT DO KAFKA’S LOST PAPERS CONSIST OF?
The papers confiscated during the August 8, 1933 Gestapo raid on Dora Diamant’s flat in Berlin include 35 letters Kafka wrote to Dora in 1923-1924 and some 20 notebook journals. The Kafka Project builds on the first search for Kafka’s lost work by Max Brod and Klaus Wagenbach in the 1950s, and is conducted on behalf of the Kafka Estate of London, England.
HOW WILL THE KAFKA PROJECT FIND THE PAPERS?
In 1998, Kafka Project research team members from the US, England and Germany conducted a four-month intensive investigation of Nazi and SED files of government archives in Berlin. In 2008, the Kafka Project expanded the search to include Nazi-era deposits in Eastern and Central Europe. Working with the US Consulate, Polish National Archives, Library of Silesia and University of Silesia, an informational kit in English, German, Polish and Czech, identifying the missing Kafka material, was delivered to regional and national archives and libraries in Poland. In early 2012, working through the Woodrow Wilson International Center at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and other institutions, research is planned to uncover the destinations and handling of captured German documents in Silesia following WWII.
WHO IS INVOLVED?
Based at San Diego State University since 1997, the Kafka Project is directed by adjunct professor Kathi Diamant, author of the award-winning biography of Dora Diamant, Kafka’s Last Love: The Mystery of Dora Diamant, which was made possible by Kafka Project discoveries. A writer, actor and broadcaster, Professor Diamant has researched and written about Dora (no known relation) since 1985. The Kafka Project Advisory Committee consists of Kafka scholars, historians, researchers, academics, archivists, and curators. Volunteers work on the Kafka Project in a variety of areas, including translation, administrative tasks and grant writing. For more information, click here.
WHO IS DORA DIAMANT?
Born into a Hassidic family in Poland in 1898, Dora Diamant (Dymant-Lask) was the only woman with whom Franz Kafka ever lived. Known as the woman who burned his work, Dora secretly kept most of Kafka’s last writings until they were confiscated by the Gestapo. Dora is universally recognized as the single person responsible for making Kafka's last year his happiest. He died in her arms, and she never stopped loving him. In 1934, she gave birth to a daughter, named Franziska Marianne. In 1936, Dora and daughter escaped Berlin for Russia. They miraculously escaped Russia in 1938, arriving in England in August 1939. Interned as an enemy alien on the Isle of Man, Dora returned to London, and she survived the bombing of her flat. Before her death in 1952, Dora worked as an actress, writer and Yiddish remembrancer.
WHY IS THE KAFKA PROJECT IMPORTANT?
Kafka's unpublished and published manuscripts are highly treasured. If found, Kafka’s missing papers would have international impact in literature and history, and would provide further evidence of the writer’s widely misunderstood character and personality. The search has already served in the discovery and reunification of Diamant family members in Israel, and is resolving an unexplored chapter in literary history.