Gerhardt Klinsmann, a German guard stationed at Auschwitz concentration camp, anguishes over the man he has become. He despises the camp and his job, and, responding to an attack of conscience, he helps a pregnant prisoner escape. After the war, Klinsmann returns to his home in Kassel, Germany, determined to start life over. But he is accused of war crimes and becomes a man on the run, fleeing from a brutal past that haunts him at every turn.
Seventeen years later, Mikhail Krol, a boy living in communist Poland, learns from a drunken uncle he was adopted as a toddler and that his biological father was a German soldier. Devastated by this shocking revelation, Mik feels his whole life has been a lie. He vows to find his biological father and his birth mother, described to him as a mysterious, dark-skinned foreigner who sang to him in a strange language.
Mik’s commitment to discovering his heritage takes him to East Berlin and Paris during the height of the Cold War and eventually to Buenos Aires, Argentina—a journey that confirms his worst suspicions when he uncovers the shocking truth about his parents.