•Michael Berg- a German man, portrayed first as a fifteen year old, and revisited in his later years. He is divorced with one daughter, Julia.
•Hanna Schmitz- a thirty-six year old German woman and former member of the German SS. She is a tram conductor when she met fifteen year old Michael.
•Michael’s Parents- Father is emotionless and distant, Mother is affectionate, doting, and submissive to father.
•Sophie- Michael’s “at-age crush”.
•Rose Mather- Holocaust survivor and author of the book that is the catalyst for the war-trial of Hanna Schmitz.
The story begins in modern day Germany, with an older, distinguished man busying himself with a meticulous morning routine. A woman emerges from the bedroom, seemingly a bit annoyed with not being awakened. A pattern..? Michael seems distant, and mentions to the woman that he is seeing his daughter this evening. She remarks about how he rarely talks about his daughter Julia. She shortly sees herself out. He goes in to look at the bedroom, and then sees a remnant of the past sending him to a window where he begins to reflect on the events that has shaped his life thus far.
In 1958 while on the way home on a tram, he becomes weakly ill, and takes shelter from the rain as he is overcome by nausea. A woman walks by, takes notice of him and gives him comfort. She embraces a bewildered Michael, assures him, and shows him kindness. She quickly sees him home. Michael is diagnosed with scarlet fever, and confined to bed for the next several months. After recuperating, Michael mentions to his mother that a woman helped him that day. Michael...