The events are set in Poznan, in late summer of 1939, at the onset of German invasion on Poland. It is a family tale involving two teen-age brothers of German descent, each of them taking opposite side in the events. One day they steal the car of a German consul, trying to take it for a ride in the country. They are arrested by the Polish police but then unexpectedly pardoned by the German consul, a liberal who reads Mann and Heine. The whole thing brings the brothers in contact with the 5th column. The question of national allegiance and family blood eventually divide the boys.