Schwandorf County (Upper Palatinate), in the Eighties: The Bavarian government is planning to build an atomic reprocessing plant. This economically underdeveloped region – with its rising unemployment –seems to be the ideal location. Hans Schuierer, head of the county authority is lured by the expected boost to the local economy and is soon celebrated as the savior of Schwandorf. The only apprehensions about the planned nuclear factory come from a handful of crackpots, whom no one takes very seriously. Yet when the Bavarian government disregards existing laws and uses brutal force to crush a harmless public protest by a newly founded action group, Hans has his first misgivings. As he begins to ask questions, he painfully realizes he is only a puppet, in a billion-mark deal orchestrated by industrial and political players. The state government underestimated this simple, taciturn fellow though. Schuierer, the former bricklayer turned county executive, becomes a fervent critic of the atomic plant. Fearlessly challenging the state government, at odds even with his own party, he becomes a symbol of the resistance.