When the members of the association Reiner and Gudrun Janick investigated eyewitness reports from the Nazi period of a bunker on Kollwitzstrasse in Tempelhof, they made an important discovery that they were able to present to the international press on the 31st of August 2000 in the Gesundbrunnen bunker: stored in the former bunker of the Lorenz factory, under a thick blanket of dust, four rusted steel cabinets with a complete set of personnel details – amongst them, the names of over 3000 former forced labourers that worked for the company. The association savaged the ownerless card index and took responsibility for its evaluation.
The leadership meticulously recorded the personnel of the C. Lorenz AG during the “Third Reich”: the details of every worker – name, nationality, birthday, starting date – were punched into little metal cards. The name Luis van der Poort, along with Dutch, born 1930 appeared on one card. In 1944 he worked for the C. Lorenz AG, at the age of 14.
Amongst the 3108 forced labourers named, there were 1081 Belgians, 629 French, 528 citizens of the Soviet Union, 220 Poles, 216 Italians, but also a few Swiss, Turks and Spaniards. The list is not complete, as many of the cards had been printed over, making them unreadable. The association handed over the metal-card index to the Berlin state archive in September 2000. One reason for this was for the protection of data privacy and the other so that the forced labour organizations of the affected states could access this information. Time was of the essence, as the former forced labourers only had seven months left to apply for reparations from the public trust for German industry. It is estimated that in Berlin alone, over 500,000 forced labourers were employed.
According to current information, 5 French, 15 Belgians, 3 Poles and 27 Ukrainians were able to receive their reparations as a result of this discovery.
The main idea behind the “ADREMA” system is the centralization of all repetitive paperwork into a central register. However, the system doesn’t use paper index cards, but instead metal ones, on which an address and details can be impressed and used to print lists.
The “ADREMA” cards are stored in little drawers, organized according to use, either alphabetically, regionally, numerically, or according to groups. The drawers hold 200-250 cards and are held in lockable archive cabinets.
The process is completely mechanical and can be reliably and quickly operated by an unskilled worker. The resulting prints look as if they were typed, because the “ADREMA” also uses the same metal letters and ribbon as a typewriter. The imprinting of the cards is done with an embossing machine. The templates could be made by the firm itself, or ordered in larger quantities directly from the “ADREMA” company. For this purpose, “ADREMA” had embossing offices in Berlin and around the world that were equipped for various possible purposes. In the Berlin office alone, 50,000 cards could be imprinted per day.
On the upper edge of the metal cards, up to 12 different colour stickers could be added, in order to determine in advance what information should be printed. The entire contents of a drawer could then be loaded into the machine, wherein the empty drawer could collect the cards as they came out under the table. Once in operation, the cards run automatically over the ink ribbon, where they stop momentarily for the printer arm to press them down onto the form. Afterwards the drawer could be returned in the original order to its cabinet.