Meller  Family

The Mellers were a prolific Rokiskis family headed by Isser Leib, son of Wolf, and Chasa Deveira (family name unknown).  They had seven children and thirteen grandchildren that we know about and, at this time, we are unable to trace the other descendants.

See also the  History of RokiskisRokiskis Sanos Melleraites ir Matildos Olkinaites Akimis for more about the Meller family.

This lovely photograph showing two young friends was donated by the late Shlomo Kodesh.  It was given to him by Frida Meller Lapidus (on the right) when he left Lithuania as a young man. Frida, who was born in Rokiskis, was the daughter of Yossel Meller and Kaila Lomiansky (from Janova). Her sister was Lisa Meller, who married Chaim Resnikovich. As a young girl Frida married Abram Lapidus and they left Rokiskis to make their home in the United States.

She is shown with her best friend whose name was not remembered by her. The inscription on the back of the photograph states in Russian that it was taken on Friday, September 8, 1921, before Manya left for Africa. This may mean that "Manya" was the friend's name. The accompanying message is as follows:

August 8, 1922

Dear Boy:

For our friendship I give you this picture, not that great, but let it be the memory for the time in Rokiskis.


Shlomo Kodesh, born in 1903, in Kupiskis, was the son of Meir Kadis & Chana Kadyshevich. His father Meir Kadis and Frieda's father Yossel Meller were first cousins, as their mothers were sisters. Shlomo left Kupiskis and went on to become a well-known Hebrew educator and author in Palestine and later in Israel. He died at the age of 97 in 2000. See more about Shlomo Kodesh on the Kupiskis ShtetLinks site.


House shared by several Meller families

Meller home at present

Wedding of Frida Meller and Abram Lapidus, Rokiskis, 1937

1. Yudel Meller; 2. Samuil Meller; 3. The mother of Abram Lapidus; 4. Abram Lapidus; 5.  Frida Meller Lapidus; 6. aunt of Abram Lapidus; 7. uncle of Abram Lapidus; 8.  Khone Meller; 9. Berta Butler; 10.Chaim Reznikovich; 11. Lisa Meller Reznikovich; 12. Fanya Rubanenko Meller (the wife of Khona Meller ); 13. Jacob, brother of Abram Lapidus; 14. Yacha Levitin Meller (the wife of Yudl Meller); 15.  aunt of Abram Lapidus; 16. uncle of Abram Lapidus; 17.Leiba Lurie; 18. unknown

This photo was contributed by Samuil Meller, son of Khone and Fanya Meller (# 8 and 12).  The Mellers were from Rokiskis and the Lapidus family were from Daugavpils (Dvinsk), Latvia.

Of the Mellers in the photo, Frida and her husband Abram left Rokiskis and emigrated to the US; Yudel survived the war and emigrated to Israel; Samuil and Khone died in Siberia, and Lisa and her husband Chaim were killed in Rokiskis.

Saying goodbye to Frida and Abram Lapidus, who were leaving for America, 1937 or 1938

1 - Mordechai Meller; 2 - Yudel Meller; 3 - Sana (Shoshana) Meller, daughter of Yudel and Yacha; 4 - Yacha Levitin Meller; 5 - Fanya Rubanenko Meller (married to Khone); 6 - Khone Meller; 7 - Mira Reznokovich, daughter of Lisa Meller and Chaim Reznokovich; 8 - Shmuel (Samuil) Meller; 9 - Chaim Reznokovich; 10 - Frida Meller Lapidus; 11 - Josef Meller; 12 - Lisa Meller Reznokovich; 13 - Keila Rubanenko, mother of Fanya Meller; 14 - Miron Meller, son of Yudel and Yacha; 15 - Jonina Reznokovich, daughter of Lisa Meller and Chaim Reznokovich; 16 - Samuil Meller, son of Khone and Fanya.

Of the people in this photo, Frida Meller Lapidus left Rokiskis before the war and emigrated to the US; Yudel, Yacha, Miron, and Sana Meller survived the war and emigrated to Israel; Shmuel Meller, Mordechai Meller, Khone Meller and his wife Fanya died in Siberia; and Lisa, her husband Chaim Reznokovich, their daughters Jonina and Mira, Josef Meller, and Keila Rubanenko were killed in Rokiskis.

This photo was contributed by Samuil Meller (# 16), who survived the war in Siberia and now lives in the U.S.

Bar Mitzvah of Miron (Meir) Meller, in November 1939 at the home of Yudel Meller
(Miron was born November 27, 1926)

This picture illustrates the fate of Jews who lived in independent Lithuania in the months after the Germans and Russians conquered Poland in September 1939.  

The original photo, saved by David Apotheker, is owned by Annette Apotheker Rosen.  Her father, David Apotheker (1908-1995), the only survivor of eight siblings, was born in Bardejov, Slovakia (although his family had its roots in Nowy Sacz, Poland).  David’s family knew that he had escaped to Shanghai with a transit visa from Chiune Sugihara, the Japanese consul general in Kovno, Lithuania’s inter-war capital.  However, they did not know why David was in Rokiskis. 

However, Samuil Meller (25) and his cousin Sana Meller Levin (12) have identified the photo as the celebration of Miron Meller's bar mitvah in November 1939 and have identified most of the people in the photo for us (see below).  It seems more likely that they are correct if you note the table settings, which seem more appropriate for a family celebration than a 'meeting.'  Samuil and Sana provide the following explanation for why David Apotheker and the others who remain unidentified are at the celebration: 

As for unknown people  # 3, 7, 8, 10, 20, 22, 23 and 24, we think that after Germany’s invasion of Poland (in September 1939), Jewish refugees from Poland fled to Rokiskis. They were placed in detention camps, but were free to walk in the city. They used to dine with Jewish families. Every person was assigned to a family, which he or she visited every day, and shortly they became like members of the family.

David Apotheker, who saved this photo, was one of many such Polish refugees. He dined with the family of Yudel  Meller.

1 - Yosef Milner, dentist, murdered in Rokiskis, August 1941; 2 - Bella Arsh, daughter of the man who owned the house that Yudel Meller live in, died in Israel; 3 - unknown; 4 - Tsipora Levitin, mother of Rashel (27) and Yacha (14), grandmother of Sana Meller (12), murdered in Lithuania, 1941; 5 - Zorah Orelovich, owner of a newspaper kiosk, died in Israel; 6 - Chaim Reznikovich, insurance agent, husband of Lisa (32), murdered in Rokiskis, August 1941; 7 - 8 Unknown; 9 - ? Vinokur, wife of photographer (31), murdered in Rokiskis, August 1941; 10 - Unknown; 11 - Yudel Meller, co-owner of a factory, father of Sana (12) and Miron Meller(13), husband of Yacha (14), survived a Soviet concentration cam, died in Israel ; 12 - Sana Meller, daughter of Yudel (11) and Yacha (14), survivor of  two Soviet exiles in Siberia  and  two prison terms  in Vilnius, lives in Israel; 13 - Miron (Meir) Meller, son of Yudel (11) and Yacha (14), survivor of  two Soviet exiles in Siberia, died in Israel; 14 - Yacha Levitin Meller, wife of Yudel Meller, survivor of  two Soviet exiles in Siberia, died in Israel; 15 - ? Furmansky, owner of a grist mill and a power station, murdered in Rokiskis, August 1941; 16 - Mira Etingof, wife of 17, murdered in Rokiskis, August 1941; 17 - ? Etingof, doctor, escorted exiles to Siberia, died in Vilnius after the war; 18 - Sarah Meller, wife of Morduch (Mordechai) (34), survived Soviet exile in Siberia, died in Rubtsovsk, Russia; 19 - Tsila Milner, wife of Yosef (1), murdered in Rokiskis, August 1941; 20 - Unknown; 21 - ? Krasovsky, refugee who dined with Fanya and Khona Meller's family;  22-24 - Unknown; 25 - Samuil Meller, son of Fanya (#26)  and Khona Meller, the cousin of  Sana(#12) and Miron(#13), survived Soviet exile in Siberia, lives in US; 26 - Fanya Rubanenko Meller, wife of Khona, mother of Samuil (25), died in 1943 in Soviet exile in Siberia; 27 - Rashel Levitin, sister of Yacha Meller (14), survived in ghetto in Lithuania, died en route to Israel; 28 - Unknown; 29 - Miriam Kan Meller, wife of Samuil Meller (30), survived Soviet exile in Siberia, died in Krasnoyarsk, Russia; 30 - Samuil (Shmuel Wolf) Meller, co-owner of a factory, died in Soviet exile in Siberia; 31 - ? Vinokur, photographer, husband of (9); 32 - Lisa Meller Reznikovich, wife of Chaim (6), murdered in Rokiskis, August 1941; 33 - Tamar or Sana Meller, daughter of Mordechai Meller (34) and Sarah Meller (18), murdered in Lithuania; 34 - Morduch (Mordechai) Meller, co-owner of a factory, husband of Sarah, died in Soviet concentration camp in Krasnoyarsk, 1942; 35 - David Apotheker (see story which follows).

(David Apotheker's story as told to us by his daughter Annette:

My father David, after having been in Siberia and after arrival in Vladivostok, was taken to Japan, beaten and expelled to Shanghai, where he lived for 4 years. After the war he made his way to Antwerp but didn't find any survivors. He met a friend, Saul Braunhut, who had a weaving factory in Winterswijk, Holland. My father joined him, he had a letter of being "persona non grata" from Belgium.  In Holland he met Reina Wijler -Kropveld a war widow (of Lo Wijler ), married her in 1948, and had two children.  My brother Eli Apotheker and I both immigrated to Israel. 

My mother died in 1969 in Ruurlo, Holland and my father in 1995 in Tel Aviv, Israel.)

Lithuanian School, Rokiskis, 1940

This photo, contributed by Samuil Meller, was taken in June, 1940, several days before the occupation of Lithuania by the Soviets.

In Samuil's own words:

This is the 6th senior class Lithuanian Beginning School named after Tubyalis 

#1 - Samuil Meller, about 13 years old
#2 - Mr. Stulgis, the school principal

I was the only Jewish student in my class.  There was one more Jewish student in the school, Grisha Furmansky.  

Before our graduation, Stulgis delivered a patriotic speech about the coming fearsome events.

Miriam Kan Meller and  her son Abram

Kazachiye, Siberia 1945 (
located on the Yana River, near the Arctic Ocean.)

(This is the only copy of this photo because Miriam didn’t have money to order more than one.)
Back of the Photo

In June 1941 Shmuel Meller, the oldest of four Meller brothers and his wife Miriam and son Abram, who lived in Rokiskis in the own house on #2, Vytauto St., were sent into exile on the Arctic Ocean coast.  Shmuel didn’t survive the extreme conditions and climate and died in 1943. His wife and son survived by a miracle but certainly would not have survived had they remained in Rokiskis.  (Shmuel is #30 in the Bar Mitzvah photo of Miron Meller above and his home in Rokiskis is #1 on the photo entitled "Samuil Meller remembers family landmarks" on the
main page of the Rokiskis ShtetLinks.)

We see them with their yurt, a traditional earthen Yakut house, in the background. (The Yakuts were Turkic peoples  who lived in Siberia.) It was a round shack with earthen floor and iron stove in the center.  During the winter (which can be nine months long in Siberia) in order to preserve warmth of their home they had to cover the windows with ice panels which were frozen to the outside walls. The yurt was covered with snow up to the roof and the fire was burning around the clock.

Miriam worked as a laundrywoman for a living so she had firewood for boiling the water for the clothes and this helped them survive. Paradoxically, although she was an exile she was awarded a medal “For noble work during the Great Patriotic War 1941-1945”. This award helped her to get permission to move to Yakutsk city in 1947 and after that to Krasnoyarsk in 1959.  She died in Krasnoyarsk and her son Abram still lives there.

(This photo is courtesy of Abram Meller; the commentary was written by  his cousin Samuil Meller based on Abram's information.)

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