We have little information about the life of Heinrich Emil Adametz. After working as a cabin boy, he trained as a naval architect and later did an apprenticeship as an ornamental painter. He then studied at the schools of arts and crafts in Hamburg and Altona, and from 1904 to 1906 at the Stuttgart State Academy of Fine Arts, where his teachers were Adolf Hölzel and Leopold von Kalckreuth. Afterwards, Adametz moved to Berlin. In 1914, he married Johanna Michaelis, the daughter of a wealthy Jewish estate agent. Johanna’s parents regarded this penniless artist as unbefitting of their social status and tried to prevent the marriage. Johanna ignored their wishes and was shunned by them. After the Nazis seized power in 1933, Adametz was barred from his profession on account of being “related by marriage to a Jew”.
In 1943, his wife was arrested when fetching food stamps. After protests by her “Aryan” relatives, she was set free again. She and Adametz thereafter hid in Zesch near Berlin, though they were betrayed there and had to move back to Berlin, where they lived in one hideout after another. Heinrich Adametz was arrested in 1944 and sent to the Gardelegen concentration camp near Magdeburg. When the camp was emptied, he managed to escape by jumping into a sewage ditch, from where he saw his fellow prisoners murdered. He and his wife lived in Berlin from 1945 onwards. Johanna survived her husband by three years, living during this time with her friends who thereafter inherited the archives of Heinrich Adametz.