Theodor Chindler, professor, member of parliament for the Centre Party and an upright
conservative, regards the preparations for war with apprehension. His wife Elisabeth rules the household with a strict, bigoted and religious regime, straitjacketing the development of her children, instead of educating them. The outbreak of war has a decisive impact on the family. The sons Ernst and Karl go off to war full of enthusiasm, as the times dictate.

The daughter Maggie reports for duty as a medical orderly, whilst the youngest son Leopold is still at school. The seventh person in the family unit is Ernst’s wife Lilli, an unconventional and dazzling woman, an anarchistic individualist, the perfect incarnation of someone who knows how to survive. The war changes all of them apart from Elisabeth, who becomes an even greater slave to her views.

While the focus is in turn on Elisabeth, Leopold, Lilli and Ernst in the first episodes, the action gradually concentrates on Maggie. Disturbed by what she has seen in the military hospital, she strikes up a friendship with the revolutionary Koch. She goes to Berlin and lives a simple life amongst the poor, becoming an activist in the Social Democratic Party. However, she refuses to allow herself to become a slave to ideology or be discouraged from her charitable disposition and moral stance. “She suffers from the distress of the masses and attempts to alleviate their load”, says Geißendörfer, adding: “such women do exist”.

The unity of the Chindler family is destroyed by the end of the series: Ernst, whose eyes
are opened by the war, is killed in 1917; Lilli and Leopold go their own ways; Karl returns as a cynical and brutal fellow; Maggie leaves her family for good – leaving Theodor and Elisabeth behind. The pugnacious and courageous Centre Party man Chindler allows himself to be convinced by the SPD to join the new regional government.

Geißendörfer says that the novel’s attraction for him is the vividness of the characters
within a family environment. It is a story which demonstrates that the ideals of the individual are ground down within power structures. In this series, he has tried to illustrate a chapter in German history by the example of a family’s destiny.


Theodor Chindler: Hans-Christian Blech | Margarete Chindler: Katharina Thalbach | Elisabeth Chindler: Rosemarie Fendel | Lilli Chindler: Antonia Reininghaus | Leopold Chindler: Hans Putz | Ernst Chindler: Jan Niklas | Karl Chindler: Alexander Radszun | Clemens Koch: Gottfried John | Richard: Giovanni Früh | Diel: Martin Flörchinger | Helmberger: Bernhard Wicki | Gröber: Josef Chvalina | Therese: Eva Svobodova | Luise: Anne Bennent | Balthasar Vierling: Kai Taschner | Frau Vierling: Erni Wilhelmi | Emil Granowski: Bernd Tauber | Erzbischof: Ernst Fritz Fürbringer | Gerda Riemer: Suzanne von Borsody | Frau Riemer: Erica Schramm | Leutnant Mahritz: Marcel Werner | Volkert: Jan Prcncil | Tante Friedrike: Dana Medricka | Großmutter: Maria Rosulkova | Falkenhayn: Radouan Lukavsky | Frau Sorge: Erica Wackernagel | Pfarrer Müller: Jürgen Schornagel | Lehrer Schmidt: Vaclav Lohnisky | Oberholzer: Marquard Bohm | Begleitoffizier: Zdenek Mleoch | Hey: Franz Uhlfelder | Verwundeter im Krankenhaus: Vladislav Zpanic | Polizeipräsident: Karel Urbanek | von Capelle: Josef Langmiler | Friedel: Milena Steinmasslova | Betriebsleiter: Josef Kaukonsky | General mit Pferd: S. Michalyk | Jean Duval: Marcel Vasinka | Potemkin: Martin Stropnicky | Frau Ritter: Jana Posseltova | Juwelier: Victor Maurer | Gefängniswärterin Schulz: Jana Drbohlavova | Pritzlewitz: Raul Schranil | Kriminalbeamter: R. Heller | Bürgermeister von Neustadt: Oldrich Velen



Director: Hans W. Geißendörfer

Screenplay: Bernhard von Brentano, Hans W. Geißendörfer

Director of photography: Jaroslav Kucera

Associated producers: Gunther Witte, Martin Wiebel

Editors: Ulrike Pahl, Jutta Brandstaedter

Music: Jürgen Knieper

TV-serial, Germany 1978/79 | 8 parts á 60 minutes | Production: Westdeutscher Rundfunk | On TV: 14th., 21st. und 28th. May, 11st., 18th. und 25th. June, 2nd. und 4th. July 1979