Here is the obituary in the New York Times, under the headline "Elisabeth Maxwell, Expert on Holocaust, Dies at 92." This is an amazing story:
Elisabeth Maxwell helped her husband run a multibillion-dollar business and a 53-room manor. Each year she made a scrapbook of press clippings about him; some years it tipped the scales at 60 pounds.
But when her husband, Robert Maxwell, the British media tycoon whose holdings included The New York Daily News and book publishers, fell or jumped from his yacht off the Canary Islands in 1991, her life was turned upside down.
She discovered that she was suddenly so poor that she had to live in a borrowed apartment. And she found a larger purpose in life, bringing renewed attention to the Holocaust, which cost her husband so many relatives.
Dr. Maxwell — as she was known after earning a Ph.D. from Oxford at 60 — died on Wednesday in Dordogne, France, at 92. Her death was confirmed by her daughter, Ghislaine Maxwell.
After her husband’s death, Dr. Maxwell learned that he had diverted more than $1 billion from pension funds for his more than 400 corporate entities. Insurance companies refused to pay her because they believed he had committed suicide. Her $485,000 pension was gone, along with that of thousands of employees in Mr. Maxwell’s publishing empire, which included the Mirror Group Newspapers and the Macmillan publishing business.
Dr. Maxwell got by with help from friends, and three years later wrote a tell-all autobiography, expressly to earn money.
And she focused her energy on an enterprise she had begun with her husband: helping to remember and honor his many family members killed by the Nazis. (He was Jewish; she was Huguenot Protestant.) Her mission expanded to include the entire Holocaust, on which she became an expert, lecturing around the world.
In 1987, she started the journal Holocaust and Genocide Studies. The first publisher was Pergamon Press, one of Mr. Maxwell’s companies. It is now published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
In 1988, she organized a conference called Remembering for the Future. It was the first of three such conferences, which drew scholars from around the world. Each yielded several books of essays. The English magazine New Statesman called the three volumes from the 2000 meeting “frankly awesome.”
“The fact is, she gave her heart and soul to that project,” Elie Wiesel, the author and Holocaust survivor, said in an interview.
In 1995, Dr. Maxwell was named grand marshal of the annual Salute to Israel Parade on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. She was the first female vice president of the International Council of Christians and Jews.
Dr. Maxwell’s passion for Holocaust remembrance and understanding emerged after she earned a doctorate from the University of Oxford in 1981. She entered the university in 1970 to earn the undergraduate degree she abandoned during World War II, and over the next decade completed a Ph.D. Her thesis, “The Art of Letter Writing, 1789-1830,” used her aristocratic French Protestant family as source material.
That inspired her to prepare her family’s genealogy for her children. She decided to do the same for her husband’s. “I put a little Star of David in front of all the people who had been murdered in the camps,” she said in an interview with the London newspaper The Guardian in 2000. “And when I unfolded it, it was like a shower of yellow stars.”
“I couldn’t believe that so many people in one family could have been murdered,” she continued. “I just wanted to know why.”
Mr. Maxwell, who had been so distraught by the loss of so many relatives that he avoided thinking about his Jewish roots, was profoundly glad to reconnect. He called his wife “the keeper of my Jewish soul.” He helped Soviet Jews emigrate to Israel and supported other Jewish causes. He became one of Israel’s biggest foreign investors. Israel gave him a state funeral that was attended by the country’s political elite, and he was buried on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem.
Elisabeth Jenny Jeanne Meynard was born in La Grive, near Saint-Alban-de-Roche, France, on March 11, 1921, into a family whose lineage included kings of France. Her father was the village mayor. She studied law at the Sorbonne, then decided to teach primary school.
She volunteered to welcome Allied officers to liberated Paris. One was a British intelligence agent who used the alias Ivan du Maurier but had been born Jan Ludwig Hoch in Czechoslovakia. He would later take the name Ian Robert Maxwell.
“The minute I saw her, I wanted her for my wife,” Mr. Maxwell later wrote.
She wrote that she was grateful Mr. Maxwell treated her respectfully: “He was the first member of the Allies I met who didn’t try to pounce on me.”
Mr. Maxwell made three promises in his marriage proposal: He would win a Military Cross for heroism, he would make a fortune, and he would become prime minister of England. Within six weeks he won the Military Cross. He eventually made a fortune. His political career, on the other hand, got no further than six years in Parliament as a member of the Labour Party in the 1960s.
They were married in 1945. She resolved to recreate the big family her husband lost during World War II, and succeeded.
Her daughter Karine Maxwell died in 1957, and her son Michael died in 1967. Besides her daughter Ghislaine, she is survived by three other daughters, Anne Maxwell, Christine Malina-Maxwell and Isabel Maxwell; three sons, Philip, Ian and Kevin; and 13 grandchildren.
Dr. Maxwell’s 1994 autobiography, “A Mind of My Own: My Life With Robert Maxwell,” described her husband as bullying, unfaithful and frequently absent as he amassed his empire — which evaporated in bankruptcy after his death. The book nonetheless insisted that he was “not the degenerate monster” many said he was.
But Dr. Maxwell, in the book and in interviews, never flatly answered a basic question: did she still love Robert Maxwell?
Sometimes she said yes; at other times she said she should have left him; and at still others she said the question was simplistic. Dr. Maxwell said her friends, who called her Betty, gave the old scalawag the benefit of the doubt. “He can’t be as dreadful as they say,” they said, according to Dr. Maxwell. “Look at how nice Betty is.”