In an elegant pension on the coast of the Adriatic, in the south of Italy, there gathers for the seventh year running, a group of high-class Viennese Jews for their regular annual vacation. The group includes Ilsa Von Sternheim, an old senile lady, who still mourns the death of the Emperor Franz Josef. Ilsa is the mother of Hermina Sternheim, another guest at the pension, director of a department of a Jewish hospital in Vienna, a sober-minded, strong spinster, cynical and practical. In her train is her hypochondriac brother, Stefan Harshar, who thinks each day that he is about to die. Irvine Kempinski is a well-off paper exporter, a gossip with artistic ambitions, who is loved by everyone.
The group also includes Mr and Mrs Bauer. Martin is a frustrated author. His beautiful wife Sarah, radiates much personal charm. She was formerly a promising opera singer, whose marriage ended her career. For five years, since she first heard the word "Nazi" she has been neurotic, and has apocalyptic dreams of the end of the world. Noticeable by his absence is David Schlesinger. The plot takes place on the evening of 11th March 1938. The Anschluss is about to take place, but Vienna is indifferent and the members of the group deny reality. They have come to rest and during the time of rest, politics are forbidden, as is the reading of newspapers. This will be their final meeting, but they are unaware of it.