Germany. The story of three generations of a family over 40 years. It is the late 1940s and Erich Freytag returns from captivity in Russia to a lukewarm reception from his family. Time marches on as his son Klaus discovers he has a knack for writing and he starts his own family with the rich, talented Gisela. The couple have a son but many doubt their love for the child. Years go by, with young Robert shuffled back and forth between an indifferent father, and his grandparents' homes. As the boy grows up, he tries to find out who he really is.