A souped-up, supra-vibrating tale about a 12-year-old German girl's short life of love and sacrifice, based on the common tragedy of civilian and child victims of WW II. When the Allies firebombed Dresden, Johanna Seyfert and her best friend, also 12, were at the circus--and then the very air was in flames. Johanna, now alone, begins the terrible trek (past a railroad station piled with corpses) to her Dresden home--to find her sister Grete dead, and her mother Leni mad. Then there's a horrible journey, as Johanna drags along her mute mother to the country refuge of Hans Kerbratt, founder and director of the Kreuzkirke children's choir, who--back in the circus shelter--had promised her refuge. It is at her stay in his house that Joanna, fiercely protective and devoted to the mother who always had seemed to love her sister best, has an earnest flirtation with wounded 15-year-old Franz (they'll exchange vows). But, at last, Hans (an old admirer of Leni's) arranges for Leni to enter a clinic in Prague, and Johanna goes to live with her late archeologist father's friend, the scholarly Professor Hutka. And ah!--Johanna is the spit and image of Hutka's 50-year-old love, the Turkish Ishtar! Meanwhile, he shows Johanna his life's work--all gathered in one brown envelope: his ground-breaking study of the Cretan linear writing. Given the fact of one man's life's work gathered in one envelope, and given leading remarks by a mean housekeeper who hates Germans--there's only one denouement possible. And then there's the sad ending, in which Leni's madness and Johanna's devotion bring tragedy and death. A heavy-handed infusion of tragedy with easy sentiment.