Geyer, Emil

Emil Geyer


29 November 1872 Swoikowitz / Vojkovice, Moravia – 12 October 1942 Mauthausen concentration camp

born Emil Goldmann, artist's name Geyer


Emil Goldmann was born in Swoikowitz, Moravia, in 1872 as the oldest of nine children of the tenant farmer Jakob Goldmann and his wife Amalie. After completing his secondary schooling in Znaim (Znojmo), he moved to Vienna to study and became a doctor of law in 1895. He then went to Berlin to study economics but stopped after just one semester to devote himself to the theatre, working initially above all as an actor. In these early years, he met Max Reinhardt, who became a lifelong friend. After converting from Judaism to Protestantism, Goldmann is documented at least from 1902 as performing under the name Geyer. After working at the Schauspielhaus in Dusseldorf as director and dramaturge, and in the Märkisches Wandertheater in Berlin, Emil Geyer returned to Vienna in 1912 with his wife, the Berlin actress Ellen Neustädter (1885–1926), and their daughter Eva Maria (1907–1975), where he became director of the Neue Wiener Bühne in Harmoniegasse in Vienna's 9th district. Probably as a result of the separation from his wife, who left for Hamburg with the actor Leo Reuss, he moved again to Berlin in 1921 to take up the position of chief director and deputy manager at the Robert-Bühnen belonging to Eugen Robert. After Ellen Neustädter's suicide in 1926, Geyer, who had now been appointed deputy director of Theater in der Josefstadt by Max Reinhardt and in 1930 also authorized director of the Max Reinhardt Seminar, returned to Vienna. In this theatre, which had considerable financial difficulties as a result of the general theatre crisis, he was replaced by his former deputy, the future Hollywood director Otto Preminger, but he continued as a director there and at the Deutsches Volkstheater. Thanks to his various engagements, he had many contacts in the German-speaking art and culture world, including Arthur Schnitzler, Richard Beer-Hofmann, Egon Friedell, Franz Theodor Csokor, Else Lasker-Schüler, Lina Loos, Salka Viertel, Attila Hörbiger and Paula Wessely.

There are numerous letters from the time after the annexation of Austria to the German Reich describing Geyer's increasing despair at the successive deprivations of his rights. His daughter Eva Geyer, also an actress, managed to escape to the USA with her husband, the gynaecologist and art collector Paul Singer (1904–1997), but Emil Geyer, who was now obliged to use his former name Goldmann, was no longer able to escape from Austria. After his dismissal from the Reinhardt Seminar he was forced of necessity, as he told his former student Judith Holzmeister, to sell some of his art collection. It is not possible today to reconstruct exactly what it consisted of. On the advice of the writer and art historian George Saiko, whom Geyer had supported financially, he had acquired works by Oskar Kokoschka, Egon Schiele, whose patron Arthur Roessler he also knew personally, Gustav Klimt, Theodor Allesch-Alescha, Franz Pechstein and also Wassili Kandinsky. The many letters by Geyer, among others to his friends Richard Beer-Hofmann or Max Reinhardt's secretary Gusti Adler in US exile and to Erhard Buschbeck at the Vienna Burgtheater, asking them to intervene were in vain. He was forced to move from Siebensterngasse (renamed Straße der Julikämpfer to commemorate the failed July putsch by the Austrian National Socialists in 1934) to collective housing at Krugerstraße 5 in the 1st district. After being captured by the Gestapo following a failed attempt to escape with his sister Jeanette and her husband Otto Richard Hermann, he was deported on 31 July 1942 to Mauthausen concentration camp and shot a few days later "while attempting to escape". There is no documentary evidence to support the claims made after the war that Paula Wessely and other fellow actors attempted to have Geyer released from Gestapo detention. It is unclear whether and in what way Joseph Gregor, director of the Österreichisches Theatermuseum, shared responsibility for Geyer's fate, as his future wife Maria Kotera attempted to disclaim in 1947. That same year George Saiko's partner Gabriele Gross informed the Federal Monuments Authority that he had acquired from Emil Geyer a watercolour by Josef Kriehuber, which she had brought to the Dorotheum in 1943 and sold for the Linzer Kunstmuseum. Research subsequently revealed, however, that this watercolour had been part of the art collection of the Viennese lawyer Josef Blauhorn, who fled to London. The picture was returned to his legal successors in May 2013. The whereabouts of Emil Geyer's art collection and extensive library are not known.

Author Info
Publications about the person / institution

Beschluss des Kunstrückgabebeirats, Auguste und Josef Blauhorn, 3.5.2013, URL: (3.12.2020).

Ilse Bachmann, Emil Geyer (1872–1942). Regisseur – Theaterleiter – Pädagoge – Schauspieler, Dissertation Universität Wien 2003.

Franz Theodor Csokor, Auch heute noch nicht an Land. Briefe und Gedichte aus dem Exil, hg. v. Franz Richard Reiter, Wien 1993.

Milan Dubrovic, Veruntreute Geschichte. Die Wiener Salons und Literatencafés, Wien 1985.

Edda Fuhrich, Das Theater in der Josefstadt 1924 bis 1935, in: Gerald M. Bauer/Birgit Peter (Hg.), Das Theater in der Josefstadt. Kultur, Politik, Ideologie für Eliten? (= Wien – Musik und Theater 3), Wien 2010, 47–58.

Hilde Haider-Pregler, Überlebens-Theater. Der Schauspieler Reuss, Wien 1998.

Hilde Haider-Pregler, Wien 1938 – Spurensuche nach den Vergessenen der Theatergeschichte. Eine biographische Annäherung an Emil Geyer und Lilly Karoly, in: Theo Girshausen/Henry Thorau (Hg.), Theater als Ort der Geschichte. Festschrift für Henning Rischbieter, Velber 1998, 183–191.

Judith Holzmeister, Erzählte Erinnerung, in: Peter Roessler/Susanne Gföller (Hg.), Erinnerung. Beiträge zum 75. Jahrestag der Eröffnung des Max Reinhardt Seminars. Eine Dokumentation, Wien 2005, 37–39.

Else Lasker-Schüler, Briefe 1925–1933, bearb. v. Sigrid Bauschinger, Frankfurt am Main 2005.
Else Lasker-Schüler, Briefe 1933–1936, bearb. v. Karl Jürgen Skrodzki, Frankfurt am Main 2008.

Peter Roessler, Paul Kalbeck – der Regisseur als Lehrer, in: Judith Pór-Kalbeck (Hg.), Paul Kalbeck – ein Poet der Regie. Der Lebensweg eines Wieners (= Bilder aus einem Theaterleben 3), Wien 2005, 173–212.
Peter Roessler, Zur Geschichte des Reinhardt-Seminars von 1928 bis 1938, in: Peter Roessler/Günter Einbrodt/Susanne Gföllner (Hg.), Die vergessenen Jahre. Zum 75. Jahrestag der Eröffnung des Max Reinhardt Seminars, Wien 2004, 11–52.

Arthur Schnitzler, Tagebuch 1913–1916, hg. v. Peter Michael Braunwarth, Wien 1983.
Arthur Schnitzler, Tagebuch 1920–1922, hg. v. Peter Michael Braunwarth, Wien 1993.

Pia Schölnberger, Emil Geyer – Ein Sammler im Verborgenen, in: Eva Blimlinger/Heinz Schödl (Hg.), Die Praxis des Sammelns. Personen und Institutionen im Fokus der Provenienzforschung (= Schriftenreihe der Kommission für Provenienzforschung 5), Wien-Köln-Weimar 2014, 135–160, URL:

Andrea Winkelbauer/Brigitte Borchardt-Birbaumer (Hg.), Euphorie und Unbehagen. Das jüdische Wien und Richard Wagner. Publikation anlässlich der Ausstellung Euphorie und Unbehagen. Das jüdische Wien und Richard Wagner des Jüdischen Museums Wien, 25.9.2013–16.3.2014, Wien 2013.

Publications by the person / institution

Emil Goldmann, Gerhart Hauptmann. Vortrag, gehalten in der Redehalle-Versammlung vom 29. October 1892, in: Bericht der Lese- und Redehalle der Deutschen Studenten in Prag über das Jahr 1892, Prag 1893, 3–23.

Emil Geyer, Das Pathos im Werk des Kuenstlers, in: Franz Flaum, Fuenf Essays von Stanislaw Przybyszewski, Rudolf v. Delius, S. Lublinski, Dr. Emil Geyer, Cesary Jellenta, Berlin 1904, 26–31.
Emil Geyer, Ein Dichter, in: Morgen 2 (1908) 2, 1208–1210.
Emil Geyer, Vom Pathos der Zeit, Leipzig 1908.

Theater und Kunst. Vokstheaterkandidaten. II. Gespräch mit Direktor Dr. Emil Geyer, in: Fremden-Blatt, 21.2.1918, 10–11, URL: (3.12.2020).


Archiv des Max Reinhardt Seminars, Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst, Zl. 84/Res/39.

Archiv hl. mesta Prahy, Bratislava, NDT Inv. cis 13/Karton 15, Regieseminar Schönbrunn.

BDA-Archiv, Restitutionsmaterialien, K. 36/3, PM Gabriele Gross.
BDA-Ausfuhr, Zl.167/1941, Emil Geyer.

Deutsches Literaturarchiv Marbach, A: Salka Viertel.

DÖW, Zl. 5733c, Gestapo-Leitstelle Wien, Tagesbericht Nr. 10, Rapport vom 22. bis 24.5.1942.
DÖW, Zl. 15.950, Gustav Breuer an Adrienne Gessner, 18.9.1945.

Harvard University, Houghton Library_Beer-Hofmann, Richard, 1866–1945, Richard Beer-Hofmann correspondence, 1882–1967, MS Ger 183 (177).

OeStA/AdR, E-uReang, VVSt, VA 40.256, Emil Goldmann.
OeStA/AVA, 2898, 15 C 1, Leumundszeugnis Emil Geyer, Bundespolizeidirektion Wien, 17.12.1928.

ÖNB, Literaturarchiv, Teil-NL Ernst Martin Benedikt, Zl. 381/B21.
ÖNB, Sammlung von Handschriften und alten Drucken, NL Erhard Buschbeck.

ÖTM-Archiv, PA Josef Gregor, Maria Kotera, Eidesstattliche Erklärung, 5.6.1947.
ÖTM, Handschriftensammlung, NL Heinrich Schnitzler.
ÖTM, Handschriftensammlung, NL Paula Wessely.

Wienbibliothek, Handschriftensammlung, NL Theodor Allesch-Alescha, ZPH 1399/1; ZPH 1331.
Wienbibliothek, Handschriftensammlung, NL Milan Dubrovic, ZPH 944
Wienbibliothek, Handschriftensammlung, NL Max Reinhardt, ZPH 1565, K. 11, 2.5.193.