This haunting, symbolic drama is set in a small Polish town in 1918. An officer in the Austrian army has come to stay in a hotel owned by a Jew. The officer was born in Poland, he is the only guest in the hotel, and the area itself would one day be the site where many Polish Jews and other prisoners were killed by the Nazis. Although he knows he cannot survive (he has tuberculosis), the officer still goes out hunting for a prisoner in the forest because he wants to know what it is like to kill someone. Parallels to the future German occupation of Poland are explored in greater depth when another lieutenant arrives at the hotel and engages the officer in conversation.