Friedrich (Uwe Bohm) manages to escape from East Germany to the West in the 1950s. On his arrival, he is greeted with the words Herzlich Willkommen, or "cordial, heartfelt welcome." However, once he finds employment, what he experiences is anything but a cordial welcome at his new job, where he is a teacher/counselor for "wayward children" located in a former castle. The institution is headed by a former Nazi who runs it with the help of the more criminal, bullying boys. Despite these obstacles, Friedrich manages to establish a rapport with a boy who wants to go "straight," and also begins to have an affair with an attractive female teacher at the school.