Gregor, Joseph

Joseph Gregor


26 October 1888 Czernowitz (now Chernivtsi, Ukraine) – 12 October 1960 Vienna

Joseph Gregor grew up in Czernowitz as the son of the city architect Josef Gregor. He came to Vienna in 1907 to study art history, German and music. He obtained his doctorate in 1911 with a musicological thesis, but his main interest had always been the theatre. After studying at the Wiener Hofoper, the Deutsches Theater in Berlin under the direction of Max Reinhardt and the University of Leipzig under Albert Köster, he returned in 1912 to Czernowitz to become a university music lecturer. He served during the First World War in the Tiroler Kaiserjäger regiment and as a Kriegswirtschaftskommissär (War Economy Commissar) but remained resident in Vienna. In 1918 he embarked on a career at the National Library, where he was entrusted after just two years with the establishment of a theatre department, whose head he became in 1922. He was also head of the Bundestheatermuseum (Federal Theatre Museum) founded in 1931 and was awarded the title of professor in 1933 and a few years later the rank of Oberstaatsbibliothekar (senior state librarian). When he applied as a writer for admission to the Reichsschrifttumskammer (Reich Literature Chamber) after the annexation of Austria to the German Reich, opinions as to his political reliability were split. He was thought to be sympathetic to the National Socialist movement, but as editor of the magazine Die Theater der Welt in 1936/37 he was suspected of being friendly with Jews and internationalists. He had already had to passed on his role as editor in 1937 to Karl Niessen, head of the Institute of Theatre Studies at the University of Cologne. The mistrust of the Ministry of Propaganda in Berlin combined with the efforts of his rival Niessen almost resulted in the theatre collection being moved to Berlin or Cologne and Gregor being removed from office. Thanks to Gregor's contacts and those of his staunch supporter Paul Heigl, director general of the National Library, the institute was not transferred and Gregor was left in peace in spite of the unfavourable political assessment by the NSDAP. He was ultimately able to enlarge the theatre collection during the Nazi era through donations, purchases and also Aryanization. Gregor retired at the end of 1953 and in subsequent years he lectured in the history of theatre at the Akademie der bildenden Künste (Academy of Fine Arts) and the Akademie für Musik und darstellende Kunst (Academy of Music and Performing Arts) in Vienna. During his lifetime he published an impressive number of articles about the history of theatre.

Since 1998 objects that Gregor had acquired during the Nazi era have been successively restituted.

Author Info
Publications about the person / institution

Christina Gschiel, Joseph Gregor und die Theatersammlung der Nationalbibliothek in Wien – rastlose Tätigkeit im Interesse der Sammlung, 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, 263–298, URL:

Agnes Bleier Brody, Versuch einer Joseph-Gregor-Bibliographie, 1908–1958, Berlin 1958.

Publications by the person / institution

Joseph Gregor, Weltgeschichte des Theaters, Zürich 1933.
Joseph Gregor, Shakespeare, München 1935.
Joseph Gregor, Das spanische Welttheater. Weltanschauung, Poltik und Kunst der großen Epoche Spaniens, Wien-Leipzig-Zürich 1937 (Vollständig überarb. Neuausgabe München 1943).
Joseph Gregor, Perikles. Griechenlands Größe und Tragik, München 1938.
Joseph Gregor, Richard Strauss, der Meister der Oper, München 1939.
Joseph Gregor, Alexander der Große. Die Weltherrschaft einer Idee, München 1940.
Joseph Gregor, Kulturgeschichte der Oper. Ihre Verbindung mit dem Leben, den Werken des Geistes und der Politik, Wien 1941 (2. rev. u. erw. Ausgabe 1950).
Joseph Gregor, Kulturgeschichte des Balletts. Seine Gestaltung und Wirksamkeit in der Geschichte und unter den Künsten, Wien 1944.
Joseph Gregor, Oskar Strnad. Sein Vermächtnis an das Theater, Wien 1949.

Joseph Gregor/Karl Ecker, Die Theatersammlung, Wien 1948.


ÖTM-Archiv, PA Joseph Gregor, Personenstandesblatt v. 29.10.1945; Curriculum vitae, Dr. Joseph Gregor, 4.8.1945; Personalnachrichten über den Oberstaatsbibliothekar I. Kl. Dr. Josef Gregor, 10.5.1940.