A spark in the night, a man is shot out of a tree and into his destiny. Eduard, a Viennese officer and prisoner is a regular guest at the lavish weekend parties at the Ignatov’s Estate. An accomplished pianist, Eduard plays piano with the orchestras and solos as well, conversing with the Russian officers, charming the wives and dancing with their daughters.
Fluent in 5 languages, he provides translation services to Sophia Tolsky and is offered a professorship at Omsk University, which he declines. Instead, Eduard converts from Judaism to Catholicism and marries his young bride, Manja Ignatov. Their first son, Paul, is born in the midst of the great famine. Too soon, Manja is pregnant again. A female physician performs the abortion, the first in a series.
Eduard insists on leaving Russia and returning to his homeland, Vienna. Only allowed to bring the clothes on their backs, the couple is strip-searched by the Bolsheviks. Fortunately, the Bolsheviks don’t check the baby’s very full diaper where Eduard has stashed some jewels.
They travel by cattle train for days from Omsk to Lithuania and then passenger trains through Poland. By the time they arrive in Vienna, Manja has become quite ill with malaria. In the years to come, her suffering would take many forms.