Germany, Berlin, World War II.
On the day of the capitulation of France, the postman brings to the home of carpenter-cabinetmaker Otto Kvanglja the news that their son has fallen a hero’s death for the Fuhrer. This terrible blow awakens in the soul of Anna, the wife of Otto, the hatred of Nazism, which has matured for a long time. Otto and Anna Kwangel are ordinary people, they never got into politics and until recently considered Hitler as the savior of the country. But it’s hard for any honest person to not see what’s going on around him. Why, suddenly, their neighbor, drunk Perzike, became a more respectable member of society than the elderly Frau Rosenthal, the wife of a once respected merchant? Only because she is Jewish, and he has two SS-sons. Why is a factory
Gwangel goes to the factory where Trudel Bauman, the bride of his son, works to inform her of the death of the groom, and Trudel admits that she is in the Resistance group. Weeping Trudel asks: “Father, can you still live as long as they killed your Otto?” Gwangel never sympathized with the Nazis, was not in their party, referring to a lack of funds. His main quality is honesty, he was always strict towards himself and therefore demanded a lot from others. For a long time he was convinced that “the Nazis have no shame or conscience, which means that they are not on their way with them.” But now he comes to the idea that this is not enough – nothing can be done when there is oppression, violence and suffering around.
Indeed, under the very nose, in their house, things are unthinkable a few years ago, Frau Rosenthal is robbed not just by thieves, but by thieves led by the SS and the police. The old woman is sitting out first at the Gospels, then she is rescued by a retired adviser, From, who lives in the same house. For some time she hides from him, but then still rises to her apartment. A young SS-man, Baldur Perzike, summons a police commissioner with a lieutenant. They are trying to find out where Frau Rosenthal hid some money, the old woman can not stand the torment and is thrown out of the window, and Baldur Perzike receives as a reward her gramophone and a suitcase with linens.
Kvagel decides to fight against fascism alone, with his own forces – to write postcards with calls against the Fuhrer, against the war. Anne Gwangel at first seems that it is too shallow, but both understand that they can pay with their heads. And so the first postcard is written, there are no political slogans in it, it simply says about the evil that the war brought about by the people, unleashed by Hitler. Otto safely throws a postcard to the entrance, it is found by the actor, former favorite Goebbels, now disgraced, terribly frightened and bears her friend, a lawyer. Both do not experience anything but fear and indignation by the “scribbler” who only brings “others to trouble,” and the card immediately finds itself in the Gestapo. Thus begins an unequal war between two ordinary people and a huge apparatus of fascist Germany and the “invisible” case, commissioned by the commissioner Escherich, the criminalist of the old school, who looks down on his new chiefs, the Gestapo, somewhat haughtily. Having studied the first postcard, he does only one thing: he inserts a flag in the map of Berlin, indicating the place where the postcard was found.
Six months later, Escherich looks at the map with forty-four flags – of the forty-eight postcards written by the time of the Gospels, only four did not fall into the Gestapo, and even then it is unlikely that they would pass from hand to hand, as Otto dreamed. Most likely, they were simply destroyed, even without reading it to the end. The commissioner does not hurry, he knows that he has chosen the most correct tactic – patient waiting. The texts of the postcards do not give any threads, but still the commissioner concludes that the invisible is a widower or a lonely man, a worker, literate, but not used to writing. That’s all. This business suddenly acquires enormous importance for the Commissioner. At any cost, he wants to see a man who has entered into an obviously unequal struggle.
Finally, the police detain a person in the clinic, accused of having thrown a postcard. This is Enno Kluge, a jerk, a coward, a slacker whom his wife drove out of the house long ago. He lives all his life at the expense of women and runs from work. Together with his friend Borkhausen, they tried to rob Frau Rosenthal, but drank too much of her cognac. But they got away with it, because the robbery was continued by the brothers Perzike.
Enno falls into the hands of Escherich, who immediately understands that he can not have anything to do with either the postcards themselves or their author, but nevertheless forces him to sign a protocol stating that a certain person gave him a postcard and lets go. Enno slips away from the spies sent for him and finds shelter in the owner of the pet store, Hete Gaberle, whose husband died in a concentration camp. But Escherich now has nothing left to do but search for Kluga, because he already reported to his superiors that a thread leading to the invisible was discovered. He finds it with the help of Borkhausen. He is trying to get money from the Commissioner, and from the widow of Gaberle, warning her that Enno is in danger. Frau Gabberle is ready to pay for the salvation of a man whom she herself considers a liar, a worthless loafer, and sends him to her friend, who hides everyone who is being pursued by the Nazis. Borkhausen’s son hunts Enno, and he again falls into the hands of Escherich, who now needs to get rid of him, since at the first interrogation it will become clear that the commissar deceived the authorities. Escherich makes Enno Kluge commit suicide and asks to hand over the case to another investigator, for which he falls into the cellars of the Gestapo.
Fate sends Otto Kwangel two warnings, one time he is a hair’s breadth from death, but this unbending man does not want to stop. In the end, he makes a mistake, losing a postcard in the shop where he works. He is arrested by Commissioner Escherich, who has returned to his duties again, because his successor in the case of the “invisible” has not achieved any success. Escherich is internally broken, he is still trembling at the recollection of what he had to endure in the cellars of the Gestapo. During the interrogation, Gwangel refuses and does not abandon himself with the courage and dignity of the person who is doing the right thing. He is shocked by the fact that only a negligible number of postcards did not get into the Gestapo, but he does not believe that he was defeated, and says that if he found himself in the wild, he would again fight, “only in a completely different way.” Kwangel throws the reproach in the face of the commissar in that the one of “self-interest” works for the bloodsucker, and Escherich lowers his eyes under his stern gaze. On the same day, the bustling Gestapo descend into the cell of the Gospel, mock him, make Escherich, together with them, drink glasses on the old man’s head. At night the commissioner sits in his office and thinks that he was “disgusted with delivering booty to these scoundrels,” that, if possible, he would also fight. But he knows that in him there is no firmness of the Gospel and there is no way out. Commissar Escherich shoots himself. At night the commissioner sits in his office and thinks that he was “disgusted with delivering booty to these scoundrels,” that, if possible, he would also fight. But he knows that in him there is no firmness of the Gospel and there is no way out. Commissar Escherich shoots himself. At night the commissioner sits in his office and thinks that he was “disgusted with delivering booty to these scoundrels,” that, if possible, he would also fight. But he knows that in him there is no firmness of the Gospel and there is no way out. Commissar Escherich shoots himself.
Arrested and Anna Kvagel, and, because of accidentally dropped by her on a cruel interrogation of the name, Trudel Hezergel with her husband, and even Anna’s brother. Trudel has not participated in the Resistance for a long time, she and her husband left Berlin and tried to live for each other and for the future child, but every word of them turns against them during interrogations. In the dungeon, Trudel’s husband dies of beatings, and she ends up with herself, jumping into the flight of the staircase. After the comedy of the court, in which even the defender speaks out against the accused and who sentences both gospels to death, there are long weeks of waiting on death row. Adviser Frome hands Otto and Anna to the ampoule with cyanide, but Anna does not want an easy death, she thinks only that she should be worthy of her husband, and lives the hope of meeting with him before the execution. She feels free and happy. On the day of execution, Otto retains calm and courage to the end. He does not have time to crush his teeth with an ampoule of poison. The last sound he hears in life is the screech of an ax of a guillotine. Anna Gwangel mercifully dies during the bombing of Berlin, and not knowing that her husband is no longer alive.