The euphoria of the Moscow pre-New Year’s Eve in December 45 coincided with the mood of the recently demobilized from Germany captain Sergei Vohmintsev, “when it seemed that everything beautiful in himself and in life he had just realized and it should not disappear.” Four years of war, the command of an artillery battery, orders and wounds – such is the pay of a twenty-two-year-old guy for the “bright future” that he expects from fate.
And she sends him two occasional meetings in the restaurant hustle and bustle of Astoria, which predetermined his fate for many years to come. Already the first invitation of the lady to the dance becomes for Sergei “fateful.” Geologist Nina, who celebrated her return with the friends from the expedition from the North, is powerful and resolute, by right of seniority, mastering his feelings and desires.
In her company Vokhmintsev faces Arkady Uvarov, the main culprit of the terrible tragedy
that took place at the front. Twenty-seven people and four guns were surrounded and shot by fascists by direct fire in the Carpathian village solely because of the mediocre tactics of battalion commander Uvarov. After serving in the dugout, he also contrived to dump all responsibility for the innocent battalion of Vasilenko. By the decision of the tribunal, he was sent to the penal battalion, where he was killed. Vokhmintsev, the only witness of this crime, does not want to pretend that he has forgotten everything, he publicly accuses Uvarov. Conflict in a public place is regarded by others as merely a violation of decency. The denouement is a call to the police and a fine for hooliganism.
The burden of a person without certain occupations does not bother Sergei for long. On the advice and patronage of Nina, he enters the preparatory department of the mining and metallurgical institute.
At the New Year’s party, Nina Vohmintsev again meets Uvarov. He is eager to make friends with him.
Under the battle of the chimes, Uvarov utters a toast “for the great Stalin.” Sergei demonstratively
refuses to drink with someone who is not worthy of “speaking on behalf of soldiers.” Passions are heated, and Vokhmintsev forces a diplomatic friend to leave guests for his sake…
Three and a half years passed. Lectures, seminars, exams – Sergey’s life was filled with new content. It can not be said that the figure of Uvarov disappeared from the horizon. He is not just in sight, but in the center of student life. He has a reputation for “first-class small”: a five-member, a public figure, a member of the party bureau, do not spill water with Sviridov, who was released by the secretary of the party organization of the institute. Sergey notes that over time, hatred for Uvarov is replaced by fatigue and “an angry sense of discontent with oneself.”
Unexpectedly in the life of Vohmintsev, events of a different social scale are bursting. However, a hidden warning about the impending danger can be seen in the misadventures of his neighbor in the communal apartment of the artist Mukomolov. From a high tribune, the landscape painter is classed as cosmopolitan and renegade, and proclaims his paintings an ideological diversion. At best, the unfortunate person is threatened with the denial of membership in the Union of Artists and the day labor of the decorator.
And now the punishing hand of totalitarian lawlessness reaches out to the family of Vohmintsevs. The MGB ordered a search warrant and arrest for Nikolai Vohmintsev – Sergei’s father, an old communist. Before the war, he was in the leading position, at the front – the regimental commissioner. In the autumn of 1945, in high instances, the case was heard of the loss of the safe box with the party documents of his regiment during a breakthrough from the encirclement. As a result, the father was satisfied with the quiet work of the factory accountant. There are reasons to suspect another guy’s neighbor on the communal – greedy and unprincipled Bykov. Naturally, Sergei is troubled by the fate of his father, and he is also tormented by remorse: after the death of their mother, their relationship has ceased to be related… And all this in front of the younger sister Asya, standing on the threshold of adulthood and now experiencing a nervous depression.
Meanwhile, Sergei should go with fellow students to practice. Release from practice at the dean’s office. In the office of the dean there are members of the Party Bureau Uvarov and Sviridov. With the help of psychological pressure, party bosses dig into the shame of the communist’s honor of facts. “You can not deceive the Party,” warn the “guilty”.
The next warning is from Nina. Uvarov informs her that the nearest party bureau will consider the case of Vokhmintsev. For Uvarov this is a real chance to take revenge, women’s intuition tells. But even the boldest hypotheses pale before the cunning of the enemy. Coolly and cynically, Uvarov accuses Vohmintsev of the crime he committed himself. After a well-staged performance, the organizational conclusions were immediately followed-expelled from the ranks of the CPSU. Here Vokhmintsev applies for leaving the institute.
The moral support of his decisive steps is drawn by Sergei from the letter of his father, transferred to freedom. The senior Vokhmintsev is convinced that he and others are “victims of some strange mistake, some kind of inhuman suspicion and some kind of inhuman slander.”
Far from Moscow, in Kazakhstan, Sergei tries himself in the chosen profession of a miner. To get a job with a bad questionnaire, the local party committee secretary helps him. It is not excluded that Nina will come here.