Retired widower Ali, a Turkish immigrant living in the German city of Bremen, believes he has found a solution to his loneliness when he meets Turkish prostitute Yeter. He offers her a monthly payment to stop working as a prostitute and move in with him. After receiving threats from two Turkish Muslims, she decides to accept his offer. Ali's son Nejat, a professor of German literature, initially disapproves of Yeter as his father's live-in girlfriend. However, he grows fond of her when he discovers that she sends money back home to Turkey for her daughter's college education. She tell Nejat that her daughter, Ayten, believes she earns a good salary working in a shoe shop. Tension arises between Nejat and his father as Ali becomes obsessed that Yeter and his son may have become lovers. Yeter's sudden death in an accident, caused by a drunken blow from Ali, serves to further distance father and son from each other emotionally. Ali is imprisoned and later deported to Turkey, where he returns to his home town Trabzon on the Black Sea coast. Nejat travels to Istanbul to search for Ayten and hopes to assume the responsibility for helping pay for her education. He soon decides to settle in Turkey, buying a German bookshop in Istanbul from it's German owner who wants to return to Germany - in order to find Ayten, and also because being in Turkey has reawakened his Turkish identity which makes him dissatisifed with teaching young Germans about Goethe (as he is shown doing in the early part of the film). Nejat and a cousin print posters showing Yeter's image and asking "Do you know this person?" and paste the posters on walls all over Istanbul. Nejat is not aware of the fact that Ayten is a political activist who is on the run from the Turkish police and has fled to Germany using a false identity, nor that she had been present in one of his own lectures, sleeping in a corner of the lecture hall (there are several such Evangeline moments). She has been hiding as an illegal immigrant and searching for her mother in shoe shops in Bremen. Penniless, Ayten becomes friends with Lotte, a student who invites rebellious Ayten to stay in her home; a gesture which is not particularly welcomed by her mother, Susanne. Ayten and Lotte become lovers and Lotte decides to help Ayten search for her mother. While driving, Lotte and Ayten are stopped in a regular police check and Ayten runs from the car. She is caught and the police learn of her false identity. Lotte closely follows her claim for political asylum, which despite Susanne's financial support, is eventually dismissed several months later. Following her deportation to Turkey, Ayten is immediately imprisoned where she befriends other political prisoners. Lotte travels to Turkey to try to free Ayten, but quickly realises how little hope there is, as she is facing 15 to 20 years in jail. Over the telephone, Susanne pleads her to think of her future and return home. When Lotte refuses, her mother withdraws her financial support. She gets to know Nejat by chance and rents a room in his home to save expensive hotel costs. Lotte is also the name of the object of an unrequited love in The Sorrows of Young Werther, a famous early novel by Goethe, Nejat's specialty as a professor of German literature. Eventually granted the right to visit Ayten in prison, Lotte follows her imprisoned lover's request and retrieves a gun hidden on the roof of an apartment building. Lotte's purse, with the gun in it, is snatched by some small boys. She chases them and finds them looking over the items in her purse; one boy is inspecting the gun. She demands it back, but the boy points at her and fires, to his surprise killing her. Susanne decides to go to Istanbul and see where her daughter has been living the past few months. After meeting Nejat and reading her daughter's diary, she decides to take on her daughter's mission of freeing Ayten who is still in prison. The death of Lotte becomes an international incident, and authorities offer Ayten lenience in exchange for her help in the resolution of the incident. After a visit by Susanne in prison, during which she tells Ayten she wants to help her get out of prison, Ayten is so moved that she recants her political activities. As a result she is freed, to the dismay of her fellow activists who brand her a traitor. Susanne asks Nejat about the story behind a Bayram they attend, learning that it commemrates Ibrahim's sacrifice of his son Ishmael. She comments that there is the same story in the Bible, where Abraham is asked to sacrifice his son Isaac. "Would your father have done it?" she asks Nejat. "He would have rather fought God", he replies and realizes the extent of his father's love for him. Removing the poster of Yeter from the shop's noticeboard, Nejat now journeys to Trabzon to reconcile with his father, asking Suzanne to look after his shop while he is gone. Susanne offers Ayten a place to stay with her at Nejat's house. Despite crossing paths several times throughout the film, neither Ayten's search for her mother nor Nejat's search for Ayten are ever resolved. The film ends with Nejat waiting on a beach in Trabzon, for his father to return from fishing in the Black Sea.