Robert Maxwell was born in Czechoslovakia and given the name Jan Ludvick Hoch. Maxwell Fled Nazi’s, and shortly after fought in World War II as a Private on the British side. Also as part of the invasion of Normandy he became a Sergeant. The last year of war he was promoted to Captain and awarded a military cross for shooting the mayor of German town. Perhaps his ambition toward the war stemmed from the loss of his family who were killed after Hungary was occupied in 1944.
After the war he settled in Britain. He first worked as a newspaper censor for the British military command. He then used various contacts to go into business, becoming the British and United States contributor for Springer Verlag, a publisher of scientific books. In 1951 he purchased Permagon Press Limited, a minor textbook publishing company, and went into business on his own. He quickly built Permagon into a major publishing house.
From 1964- 1970 Maxwell was a Member of Parliament for the Labour Party. Maxwell was perceived to have an arrogant and domineering manner which made him unpopular in the Labour Party. He was also MP until he lost his seat to William Benyon, a Conservative. He lost his control over Pergamon, and his political career, from a financial scandal.
Like many successful publishers, Maxwell sought out to buy a daily newspaper. He was prevented from buying News of the World by Rupert Murdoch, who became is archrival.
In 1970, The Maxwell Foundation was established. Conditions for this type of company were that little information was publicly available. This suited Maxwell and as a result, he was able to invest and accommodate future companies. In 1974 he reacquired Permagon. Through Permagon he purchased the British Printing Corporation which eventually became Maxwell’s Communication Corporation. Again, through Permagon, he purchased Mirror Group Newspapers who were publishers of the Daily Mirror.
By the 1980’s Maxwell’s various companies owned several newspapers, Permagon Press, Nimbus Records, Collier books, Maxwell Directories, Prentice Hall Information Services, Macmillan (US) publishing, and the Berlitz language schools. He also had half-share investments.
Even his untimely death in 1991, where he is presumed to have fallen overboard from his luxury yacht, brought great controversy. A self-proclaimed Mossad officer approached a number of news organizations with the allegation that Maxwell and the Daily Mirror’s foreign editor were both long time agents for the Isreali Intelligence Service. It has since been said, that perhaps he was killed by the Mossad.
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