A moving saga focusing on the women in a family that spans three generations and almost 70 years of German history, from the Wilhelmine period through the end of WWII. This film shows that it takes a combination of hard work, political consciousness and family work in tandem to face the tragedies of war, economic hardship and death.
Guste was born to an unmarried maid in 1884, a situation which predetermines her path of life. She also becomes a maid and must look after her lords and ladies. One day she meets Paul, a worker, and they decide to get married. They live happily together with their two children. But when WWI breaks out, her husband is conscripted and she must support her whole family with her job making hand grenades. Very soon, Guste realizes that her work is contributing to the senseless war and she quits her job. Although Paul returns from war, the world economic crisis, emerging fascism, and finally World War II continue to make the family’s life very difficult.
Many years later, when Guste’s granddaughter, Christel, has the opportunity to study in East Germany, Guste recognizes the opportunity for Christel and the family legacy. She sews Christel a dress from the checkered bed sheets representative of their class and sends her off in style.