Rostock, East Germany, 1984. The two friends Cornelis (“Conny”) and Andreas have set their sights on seeing the world as sailors of the GDR Merchant Marine. It's a dream they've always shared – and that soon seems doomed to failure. A few years pass and the pals are still on land, working as dockhands. The Stasi then approach them with a proposition: they are to find out whether Conny's foreman is really planning to flee to the West. Their reward: a career at sea. Andreas urges Conny to rat on his boss. Though he refuses, it's too late: Andreas passes the information on to the Stasi. Shortly thereafter, the Stasi start to harass Conny's Vietnamese girlfriend, prompting Conny to flee with her to the West. She makes it, but Conny is caught and sent to prison. The two friends are now firmly in the grip of the Stasi, who expertly play on the registers of hope and longing, deceit and betrayal to shatter not only dreams, but lives, loves and friendships as well.