Rudolf Majut papers

Scope and Content

Papers of Rudolf Majut (RM), including typescripts of works by RM and corresondence. The typescripts include annotated copies of a broadcast RM 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', which was enthusiastically praised by Thomas Mann but rejected for publication. Also present are typescripts of the 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.

The correspondence is mainly from from eminent German literary figures and scholars, and some musicians. There is a lengthy and highly informative correspondence extending from 1944-1962 with Jethro Bithell (1878-1962), formerly Head of the Department of German at Birkbeck College, University of London. Other correspondents include 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.

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.


Divided into two series: Typescripts and Correspondence.

Access Information

Open. At least 48 hours' notice is required for research visits.

Acquisition Information

Given to the Institute by Dr Majut, 1969-1970.

Other Finding Aids

Catalogued online (click on the "contains" icon below). A pdf copy is also attached to this description. Handlist available in the Institute of Germanic Studies Library; copy deposited in the National Register of Archives (NRA 29443).

Conditions Governing Use

Copies may be made subject to the condition of the original. Copying must be undertaken by the Special Collections Reading Room staff, who will need a minimum of 48 hours to process requests. Some of the material in this collection is still in copyright; responsibility for gaining permission to use such material rests with the user.

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).