Heinrich Zeller was born on 21 January 1894 in Vienna; his wife Fanny, née Gottesmann, was born on 4 April 1891 in Boryslaw, Galicia. They married in 1922 in Berlin. Their son Fred was born in 1924; their daughter Lillian in 1927. In 1932 the Zeller family moved to Askanierring 8 in Spandau and opened a small fabric shop at Breite Strasse 18. Due to the Nazis’ boycott measures, they were forced to close their shop in 1935 and move to a smaller apartment at Havel Strasse 20. Until 1939, they tried to run their fabric business from the first-floor apartment above the cinema, which still exists today.
Their children Fred and Lillian fled separately to Holland, aged fourteen and twelve, and both managed to escape to England on a kindertransport. In 1989, Fred, now living in the United States, wrote a book about his childhood in Germany.
Heinrich Zeller fled to Belgium on 4 March 1940. His wife planned to join him there later. But he was forced to travel on to the South of France to escape the invading German army. Here, he was interned in Gurs and later handed over to the Nazis. On 6 March 1943, he was deported from Drancy near Paris to a destination in occupied Poland, probably Majdanek and then Auschwitz, and murdered.
Fanny Zeller’s attempt to escape Nazi Germany ended with her arrest outside Cologne. She was sent back to Berlin and made to live in a “Jews’ apartment” in Tiergarten. Later she was taken with two other occupants of this apartment to the assembly camp in the former synagogue in Levetzow Strasse. From here she was deported on the “5th transport” from Berlin (Grunewald station) on 14 November 1941 to the Minsk ghetto in Belarus and murdered.