The book tells the impossible friendship between the narrator Hans Schwarz, son of a Jewish doctor, and Konradin von Hohenfels, a young aristocrat, during the rise of the Nazi regime (in 1932) in Stuttgart.
Hans and Konradin manage to become friends despite their differences. Hans invites his friend several times to his house and is surprised that Konradin does not do the same. Finally, Konradin invites Hans to his home, but each time without the presence of his parents. Hans, annoyed, asks for an explanation. That's when Konradin tells Hans that his mother hates Jews. Hitler's rise to power causes Konradin to abandon Hans. Hans' parents, who suspect the harassment suffered by their son in high school, decide to send him to the United States to live with his grandparents, where he studies law at Harvard University in Massachusetts and becomes a lawyer. His parents commit suicide as a result of Nazi persecution. He tries to forget the hell of his past.
Long after his studies, Hans receives a letter from Germany from Karl Alexander Gymnasium, his former high school, accompanied by a booklet containing a list with all the names of former students who died in the war. He recognizes the names of former students in his class but he does not want to look at the letter H for fear of finding the name of his friend Konradin. Just before throwing the booklet away, he decides to look at the H and discovers the name of his friend, and that is when one understands the true meaning of friendship found. Indeed, his friend Konradin was executed by the Nazis after his participation in the assassination attempt against Hitler on 20 July 1944.