The Zimmermanns and Schulzes are two ordinary Berlin families. Maximillian Zimmermann runs a prosperous battery business, while Manfred Schulz is a highly respected languages teacher in the local grammar school. Both men have happy home lives - they have adoring, resourceful wives and intelligent, lively children. But the Zimmermanns and Schulzes live in extraordinary times. With the approach of the 1936 Olympic Games, the new government led by Adolf Hitler is determined to turn Germany into a powerful, militaristic state in which every citizen must play their part. In this increasingly terrifying environment, the Zimmermanns and Schulzes - instinctive opponents of the regime - struggle to maintain their happiness, dignity and integrity but find themselves inexorably drawn into the maelstrom of violence, persecution and war.