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Majut, Rudolf (1887-1981)

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0367 RMA
Held at: Institute of Modern Languages
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Full title: Majut, Rudolf (1887-1981)
Date(s): 1918-1966
Level of description: Collection (Fonds)
Extent: 3 files
Name of creator(s): Majut | Rudolf | 1887-1981 | German literary scholar
Detailed catalogue: Click here to view repository detailed catalogue


Administrative/Biographical history:

Rudolf Majut was born in Vienna on 13 March 1887 into a family of Jewish origin. He received his early education there and, at the age of ten, moved with his family to Breslau (now Wroclaw) and then Berlin. In Berlin he began his studies in Germanistik, completing them at Greifswald. He obtained his doctorate in 1912 with a thesis entitled 'Farbe und Licht im Kunstgefühl Georg Büchners'. Büchner became the focal point of his research and this opened the gates for a spate of subsequent study and publication by others. However, Majut may be regarded as a pioneer of Büchner research.

Majut was promoted to 'Studienrat', a post equivalent to a teacher in a secondary school but with Civil Servant status. He began studying for the 'Habilitation' in contemporary German literature and planned to try for a chair in pedagogics. His plans foundered with the advent of the National Socialist regime. In 1933 he was dismissed from the teaching profession due to his non-Aryan descent and additionally found it increasingly difficult to publish his research.

Although he was already in his mid-forties, Majut began to study evangelical theology at the University of Basle. For the first few years he commuted daily over the Swiss/German border, being unable to get papers to stay abroad, but for his final year, 1938-39, he left German territory and and took up residence in Basle. He had been warned of the personal dangers posed by the Nazi regime in Germany by a young woman from Berlin, Käthe Genetat, who became his wife and life's companion. Their correspondence in those difficult years was preserved by a friend, Eva Hellbardt, who acted as a 'post restante', and has been published as Briefe für Käthe 1933-37. Eine Auswahl, edited by Heinz Fischer (1995).

In 1939 Majut received a personal invitation from the Bishop of Chichester, Dr George Kennedy Allen Bell, to come to England. Dr Bell operated a support organisation for Christian ministers of Jewish descent. Majut accepted and left Switzerland with Käthe, arriving in London in May 1939. For a short period he was vicar at the Sefton Internment Camp on the Isle of Man. Then he was obliged to carry out gardening work at Redbrook, which he found totally unconvivial. In 1941 he came to Leicester and accepted a post as teacher of German in a secondary school. Later he was appointed lecturer first at Vaughan and then at Loughborough Colleges. Eventually he joined the staff of Leicester University as a Lecturer, and when he retired he was an Honorary Professor. In 1970 he was awarded the 'German Bundesverdienstkreuz' First Class.

Majut belonged to the group of literary Expressionists and was later in contact with members of the Stefan George-Kreis, principally with Melchior Lechter, who became the subject of an essay by Majut. His publications ranged from standard literary history and criticism, through philological and lexicological studies to volumes of his own poetry, the product of his life-long study of the German language combined with a truly creative talent. Many of the poems, originally published in six parts and then combined in a collected edition edited by his wife in 1994, reflect his personal experiences and emotions particularly as a refugee.


Scope and content/abstract:

Papers of Rudolf Majut, 1944-1962, comprising:
Annotated typescripts of works by Rudolf Majut, including broadcast Majut made for Austrian Radio in 1953, and of his controversial poem about the child victims of the Nazi death camps, 'Das Lied von den Schuhen' (enthusiastically praised by Thomas Mann); typescripts of poetry and prose by his brother Hans Majut (1892-1937), who suffered persecution under the Nazi regime for being of Jewish descent, despite being a protestant Christian like his brother.
Correspondence, 1918-1966: correspondents include Jethro Bithell (1878-1962), head of the Department of German at Birkbeck College London; Rudolf Liechtenhan, Rt Rev George Bell, Bishop of Chichester, Fritz Bergemann, Alfred Bergmann, Theodor Bohner; Gustav Ehrismann, Bernt von Heiseler, Max Hermann, Thomas Mann, Rudolf Odebrecht, Wolfgang Stammler, Karl Viëtor and Günther Weydt.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:
German and English

System of arrangement:

The papers are divided into two classes: Typescripts and Correspondence. The correspondence is arranged alphabetially.

Conditions governing access:

Researchers should apply to consult material at least forty-eight hours in advance by letter, facsimile, e-mail or telephone. The Library staff need a name and contact number, a concise and clear idea of the nature of the enquiry and a date and time for consultation.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Photocopies may be made, although this is at the discretion of the Librarian and is dependent on the nature of the material.

Finding aids:

List, copy deposited in the National Register of Archives (NRA 29443)

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Given to IGS by Dr Majut, 1969-1970.

Allied Materials

Related material:

Majut's library of some 6,000 volumes was donated to Leicester University for giving him a professional foothold in his adopted country, and the Institute's Library and Archive contain copies of the catalogue compiled in 1987 by Catharine Wynn and Allan Spruce of the University of Leicester. Majut's correspondence with his mother and his brother have also been deposited at the University of Leicester Library (Ref MS 201).

National Register of Archives: Click here to view NRA record

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Compiled by Jennifer Hogarth, revised by Alan Kucia as part of the RSLP AIM25 Project.

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000 and National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal Place and Corporate Names 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
Revised Apr 2002.

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