At the urging of her daughter in law, 84-Year-old Liesel Halston visits her hometown in the hope to find closure from Nazi persecution, and the pain of losing loved ones.
Liesel, sitting on a wooden bench, watches the water of the mighty Rheine-River rushing downstream. The bench dates back to her childhood. It is an old, familiar friend. She traces the outline of the heart carved into the backrest. Her beloved grandfather had carved it a long, long time ago.
The mesmerizing, rushing, water turns the clock back on Liesel. She remembers when tormenting fear replaces her sheltered childhood.
The Nazi Storm troopers force Liesel’s father to join the Nazi Party. They threaten to arrest Liesel, her mom, and her grandparents. Her mom’s family are Catholics, but of Jewish descent. Then the SS drafts her father into service to work on a nuclear weapon’s program. They flee Germany and escape from the ruthless persecution of the SS. Barely staying a step ahead of the hangman’s noose, turns Liesel’s life into a flight from hell.
The escape takes them into France and from there to England. Pursued, by the ruthless SS Sturmbannführer Heinrich, terrifying fear is their constant companion. With the help of the underground, they escape to the UK. But the horror of war follows them. They almost loose their lives during the air-raids on London.
When Liesel falls in love and marries Tom Halston, an American Army Captain, they immigrate to the US. The US Government offers Liesel’s father a job at the Los Alamos Nuclear Weapons Facility. After the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the terrifying results of his work leave him devastated.
The high spirit, forged by the nightmares of her childhood, the loss of too many loved ones, and now the uncertainty of her grandson missing in the desert of Iraq, is about to break her will.