In the years after World War II, the alliance that saved Europe is breaking down as the Soviet Union and the West compete for control of Germany. When Russia blockades Berlin, everyone, it seems, is hungry: Russian soldiers for German women, the Soviet leaders for territory, the Berliners themselves for food. But the hardest hunger of all is between a Royal Air Force woman and the wife of a Luftwaffe pilot who helped set fire to half of London.
Twelve years of terror end with a world in flames. Behind filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl's stirring footage of a million joyous patriots, the horror of Nazi Germany unfolds. It engulfs Katja Sommer, a "good German" who discovers honor in treason; Frederica Brandt, active in the highest circles of power; Rudi Lamm, homosexual camp survivor and forced SS killer; and Peter Arnhelm, a half-Jewish terrorist. Under the scrutiny of the familiar monsters of the Third Reich, these four struggle for life, decency, and each other. Love does not conquer all, but it's better than going to hell alone.
Antonia Forrester, an English nurse, is nearly killed while trying to save soldiers fleeing at Dunkirk. Embittered, she returns to occupied Brussels as a British spy to foment resistance to the Nazis. She works with urban partisans who sabotage deportation efforts and execute collaborators, before résistante leader Sandrine Toussaint accepts her into the Comet Line, an operation to rescue downed Allied pilots. After capture and then escape from a deportation train headed for Auschwitz, the women join the Maquis fighting in the Ardenne Forests. Passion is the glowing ember that warms them amidst the winter carnage until London radio transmits the news they've waited for. Huddled in the darkness, they hear the coded message, "the long sobs of the violins" signaling that the Allied Invasion is about to begin.
It is 1944, and vast armies drive each other back and forth over blood-drenched Europe.
In the midst of it, two radically different women meet, one a Russian speaking American on a failed diplomatic mission and the other a Soviet sniper. The American, fleeing a sordid past worthy of Dostoyevsky, has murder in her heart but has injured no man. The other, a once-saintly believer, has killed a hundred of them for Stalin. Their politics are worlds apart, but a reckless drunken kiss has tied them together, through church and trench, incense and the smoke of battle. If they survive the war, can they survive the peace?