Berlin in the summer of 1941: The five friends Wilhelm, his beautiful spiritual brother Friedhelm, Charlotte, Viktor and Greta meet to say goodbye. Wilhelm and Friedhelm are ordered to the Eastern Front, Charlotte will go there as a field nurse. They promise to meet again after the war and are convinced that it will be over by Christmas.
After the initial great military successes, the German army push on towards Moscow. The longer the war in the East, war-veteran Lieutenant Wilhelm Winter and his brother Friedhelm, experiences the horrors of the Russian campaign. When the two witnesses of a pogrom in a Ukrainian farming village will in which a German SS-officer shoots a 14 year old girl despite the intervention of Wilhelm, their previous notions of war comes to a falter. In the hospital, Charlotte also meets the disillusioning reality of war. Greta is getting closer to becoming a celebrated singer and uses her "charm" to help Viktor get out of Germany.