Maria and Hermann Braun get married during the Second World War. After half a day and just one night together, Hermann has to return to the front. After the war, he is reported missing. Maria alone believes that he's still alive.
In a bar reserved exclusively for American servicemen, Maria gets a job as a bar girl. She meets Bill, a black G.I., and gets pregnant. One evening, when she and Bill are in bed together, Hermann suddenly appears. In a fit of rage, he starts hitting Maria. She cannot bear to see Hermann in such a humiliating situation and hits Bill over the head with a bottle. His injury proves fatal.
At the trial, Hermann claims that he was guilty of killing Bill and is sentenced to prison. When she visits him in jail, Maria says: "I am going to get a job. And we’ll start living again once we are back together."
Maria has a miscarriage. Shortly afterwards, she meets Karl Oswald, a textiles manufacturer, on a train. Maria becomes his secretary, his assistant, his confidante. And eventually his mistress, too. Because she likes things to be open and above board, she tells Hermann about Oswald.
Maria becomes a successful business-woman. She owns her own house. When Hermann is released from prison, Maria arrives a little too late to collect him. He has left her a letter: "Because I love you, I need to make something of my life. As soon as I have, I shall come back and ask if you want to be my wife." […]
Translated from: Festival-Programmblatt der 29. Internationalen Filmfestspiele Berlin 1979
Germany (Federal Republic from 1949) 1978/79, 120 min
Rainer Werner Fassbinder