Who was Franz Kafka's best friend

Max Brod died 50 years ago Writer, critic and administrator of Kafka's estate

Of course, the young Max Brod would not have known what effect the dedication of his 1915 novel "Tycho Brahe's Path to God" would have. It read: "To my friend Franz Kafka."

"I met Kafka when I was 18 years old and he was 19, and until his death there was not a day, for more than 20 years, on which we did not meet, sometimes even twice a day."

Followed the true inclinations

When they met in the Jewish quarter of Prague's Old Town, the two were outwardly very different. Kafka's appearance "slim, tall, slightly bent over, eyes cool, flashing gray", on the other hand, the small Max Brod, who could only move around the world with difficulty - since the age of four he suffered from a curvature of the spine, so that the body became one Corset had to be forced. In spite of this handicap, in contrast to Kafka, who lived defensively, he acted aggressively and optimistically - he later called his autobiography "Arguable life".

Born in 1884 and endowed with diverse talents, Brod followed his true inclinations after initially studying law and first became a literary and music critic of the "Prager Tagblatt", then himself a writer - he became known not least because of the film adaptation of his 1927 novel "Die Frau, that one longs for "with Marlene Dietrich and Fritz Kortner in the leading roles.

Kafka's work is preserved and published

Although structured completely differently than Kafka in terms of his subjects and his conservative, bourgeois writing temperament, Brod had always supported the friend's more radical work; But then he refused the last proof of friendship: Kafka, suffering from laryngeal tuberculosis, had asked Brod to burn his largely unprinted work of finished and unfinished manuscripts, diaries and letters after his death after his death. Brod later told the publicist Willy Haas:

"I replied to Kafka very clearly and unambiguously: 'If you give me this assignment, I will not carry it out, but publish the work.' So he knew exactly what I was going to do and still put the clause in his will. "

Against the nihilistic interpretation of Kafka

In fact, Brod did not follow the wishes of his friend, who died in 1924 at the age of 40, and deciphered the texts in Kafka's difficult-to-read handwriting and gradually published them, first from Prague, later from Israel, where he went in 1939 in front of the advancing German troops had fled on the last train, Kafka's manuscripts in the suitcase as the most valuable asset.

He also repeatedly intervened in the worldwide debates about Kafka's literature after 1945: "In many of his works, Kafka developed a gloomy premonition of the horrors that are the order of the day in our time. However, Kafka does not stop at negativity. A spark of hope lives in him again and again, and I consider Kafka's nihilistic interpretation, which sees him as a pure destroyer of faith, to be wrong. "

In the shadow of Kafka's world fame

Kafka's world fame naturally cast a large shadow over Brod's own work, which he nevertheless defiantly continued, with novel-like studies about Jesus, Galilei or Reubeni, essays and memories - until the very end the Prague telephone directory from 1937 was on his desk. As a mediator between Israel and Europe Highly respected in the sense of "Hebrew humanism", the news of his death on December 20, 1968 from Tel Aviv spread at lightning speed. Joachim Kaiser expressed what the many friends and most of the Kafka readers probably felt and thought:

"Because he was Franz Kafka's best, most helpful friend, (Brod) should be granted literary immortality, even if his (own) work and his work should slowly fall into oblivion."