In the Prussia of Kaiser Wilhelm II, cobbler Wilhelm Voigt (Heinz Ruehmann) discovers he has lost his identity card, which is required to get work. Because he has served time in prison, Wilhelm's appeals at city hall are ignored and dismissed by snobbish officials. Out of frustration, Wilhelm devises a plan wherein, after stealing a secondhand officer's uniform and using his familiarity with command from prison, he plays upon the public fascination for rank and the military to get his card.
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