Dr Wilhelm Furtwängler (Stellan Skarsgård), Germany’s leading conductor and head of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra during the Second World War is investigated by Major Steve Arnold (Harvey Keitel) of the US Army following the fall of the Third Reich. Arnold is given the task of establishing links between Furtwängler and key figures in the Nazi regime, including Hitler himself. Major Arnold’s commanding officer wants ‘proof’ that the conductor collaborated with the Nazis.
Arnold is provided with two assistants to help him in his investigation. The first, Emmi Straube (Birgit Minichmayr), is the daughter of a senior Nazi general who was executed for plotting Hitler’s assassination. Working alongside her is Lieutenant David Wills (Moritz Bleibtreu), a German Jew who was sent to the US by his parents at the start of the war, only to return at the end of hostilities as a member of the US army. Arnold questions members of the orchestra one by one, hoping to find evidence of Furtwängler’s close relationship with ‘Adolf,’ as he calls him. What he finds is a group of men united in their respect for the conductor. But when Arnold’s questioning of Furtwängler goes too far, Emmi and David are united in their distaste for the Major’s treatment of the famed conductor.