The son of prominent Jewish art-gallery owners in Vienna poses as an SS officer after his best friend betrays his family to the Nazis for a coveted Michelangelo sketch. Growing up in the early '30s, Victor (Moritz Bleibtreu), Rudi (Georg Friedrich), and Lena (Ursula Strauss) were inseparable. But when Germany annexes Austria in 1938, Victor and his family are imprisoned in a concentration camp while a rare Michelangelo sketch they once owned is proven to be a fake. Determined to bestow the original to Mussolini, SS leaders have Victor removed from the camp and placed on an airplane along with his old friend Rudi. But when the plane goes down, Victor switches identities with Rudi and flees for his life. Meanwhile, the clueless Nazis repeatedly ignore Rudi's desperate pleas for help.