In this, the first film produced in postwar Germany, a doctor who served in a concentration camp attempts to deal with his immense guilt and ascribe meaning to his life. Driven to drink by his tormented conscience, the doctor wanders through a Germany ruined by the privations of the war, while his former captain at the camp has neatly segued back into a nice life with his family, apparently untroubled by his participation in the Holocaust. Encouraged by his girlfriend, a concentration camp survivor (Hildegarde Knef, in her first starring role), the doctor decides to denounce his captain to the war crimes investigators. Their personal crusade to bring the Nazi captain to justice becomes an allegory for the state of the German people.
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