Summoned from Vienna to Frankfurt to testify at the Auschwitz trials, Heiner meets Lena, who is working at the court as a translator.
As the trial progresses, Heiner bears witness to his experiences of being deported to Auschwitz as a young man.
He and Lena begin a cautious love affair, but both are unsure whether their love can be strong enough to cope with his trauma.
Heiner knows that if they are going to stay together Lena will have to accept the shadow of Auschwitz that marks him.
When she does, they start to build a new life around the debris of his past.
In clear, unobtrusive prose, Monika Held paints an emotive picture of life and love governed by trauma.
Heiner's suffering is omnipresent, and Lena's struggle to hold her own in an imbalanced relationship dominated by his past is deeply moving.
His stories are horrific and disturbing, but he cannot survive without them.
Slowly, as the years pass, they're able to a find freedom and a sense of peace they have not known before.