Elisabeth Maxwell

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Dr Elisabeth "Betty" Maxwell (11 March 1921 – 7 August 2013) was a French born researcher into The Holocaust who established the journal Holocaust and Genocide Studies in 1987. She was the widow of the publishing tycoon Robert Maxwell.[1]


She was born Elisabeth Meynard in Dauphiné, France, to descendants of the Huguenot aristocracy, and studied law at the Sorbonne. In September 1944 after the Liberation of Paris she met Czechoslovakian-born British Army Captain Robert Maxwell, while working as an interpreter for the 'Welcome Committee' which introduced French people to allied officers and they married on 15 March 1945. She then worked as his secretary and assistant in London as he established his publishing empire and bore him 9 children, 2 of whom died in childhood.

In her forties she worked in public relations for her husband's company and campaigned for him in the General Election of 1964. She then gained a BA degree in modern languages at St Hugh’s College, Oxford and was awarded a doctorate aged 60 for her thesis on The art of Letter Writing in France, 1789-1830.[2] Having researched her husband's Jewish relatives who died under Nazi rule, amounting in total to 300 of his "immediate and extended family", she wrote,[2] Maxwell subsequently edited two books on the Holocaust. She was on the Executive Committee of the International Council of Christians and Jews and founded the International Conference on the Holocaust.[3] In 1988 she received the Sir Sigmund Sternberg award for furthering Christian/Jewish relations.

Her autobiography, entitled A Mind of My Own: My Life with Robert Maxwell, was published in November 1994.[4] It is believed she knew nothing of her husband's fraud, but his behaviour left her financial resources severely depleted after his death in 1991.[2] She died at the age of 92 in Dordogne, France.[5]


  1. ^ Elisabeth Maxwell, Expert on Holocaust, Dies at 92
  2. ^ a b c Martyin Childs "Betty Maxwell: Widow of media tycoon who became a respected Holocaust scholar", The Independent, 11 August 2013
  3. ^ "Holocaust expert Elisabeth Maxwell dies at 92", Times of Israel, 9 August 2013. Retrieved 11 August 2013
  4. ^ Diski, Jenny (26 January 1995). "Bob and Betty". London Review of Books. Retrieved 16 December 2014. 
  5. ^ The Times Obituary 10 August 2013