Waitress Maria Morzeck is banned from studying because her brother has been sentenced to three years in prison for "seditious agitation". She falls in love with the much older Paul Deister. When she finds out that he is the judge who had sentenced her brother, she comes into emotional conflict but wants to keep her brother’s situation apart from her love to Paul. But she is not able to manage that. Gradually, she realizes that Paul is a stone-cold careerist who is only using her for his pleasure. Her brother – who has been released early – learns about her relationship with the judge and beats her up. Maria fights on for her admission to attend university.