In a true story beginning in the year before the outbreak of WW II in France, Charlotte (Birgit Doll), a young woman sent to the safety of her grandfathers in the south of France by her Jewish family in Germany, starts to paint pictures that recall some of the terrors she has already known in Germany before leaving.
The movie slips back and forth between the memories her paintings conjure up, and her life in France. At first, back in Germany, Charlotte was convinced that her own optimistic, romantic outlook would save her from all harm. But then that self-deception fades a little as her father, a doctor, is picked up by the Gestapo.
Even though her father's release is finally secured by Charlotte's step-mother (an opera singer), the situation steadily deteriorates until her parents send her away in the hope that she will be better off in France. Once there, the harsh reality intrudes so much on her life that not even her paintings can afford her any solace.
Her despair becomes stronger as the Nazi atrocities begin to multiply, affording her little real hope of survival. An epilogue to the movie tells the audience the fate of the real Charlotte, since the movie ends before that time.