The film spans a ten-year period starting in 1933. Celebrated German film and theater actor Hans Wieland marries the Jewish actress Elisabeth Maurer. As Nazi anti-Semitic policies increasingly infringe on their lives, they struggle to survive.
This film takes place during the Seven Years' War. The Prussian Major von Tellheim has become engaged to the Saxon noblewoman Minna von Barnhelm. After the war, the King – in an unwarranted move – deprives the major of his honor.
When their father dies, 17-year-old Helene Raupe and her little sister become orphans. Abandoned by their aunt, they must face the challenges of daily life in East Berlin. Helene is only happy in her dreams, where she can fly or be a stewardess or model.
It is 1988. Jacob (Gottfried John), from Hamburg in West Germany, falls in love with Elisabeth (Angelica Domröse) in East Germany. When they secretly meet in East Berlin, it seems the Stasi (secret police) know about it. When Jacob visits her village, someone informs on him and he is deported.
In 1945, the artist Susanne Wallner (Hildegard Knef) returns to Berlin after spending three years in a concentration camp. Yet amid the ruins, she is filled with a renewed energy for life. When she arrives at her old apartment, she finds that Dr.