When Oskar Kokoschka's affair with Alma Mahler ended, the Austrian painter commissioned a life-sized doll in her image. Rather than keep his peccadillo secret, Kokoschka paraded with the doll through the town. But one day he grows tired of it, smashes a bottle of red wine over its head and throws it out. Years later it comes to play a role in the fate of a group of citizens who survived the thousands of tons of bombs that fell on Dresden during the Second World War. They include Isaac Dresner, a Jew who developed a limp in his left leg after he was burdened with the memory of his best friend being killed in front of him during the war; Bonifaz Vogel, a man who lives with a suspended conscience; Tsilia Kacev, an Orthodox Jew who is marked by the stigmata; and Zsigmond Varga, a millionaire whose dream is to find a method to weigh the human soul, measuring evil and sin with a hydraulic scale.