WWII. Hungarian-Jewish Saul Ausländer is a prisoner at Auschwitz. He, along with several other men, stays in a different part of the camp, as they are all given the responsibility of taking newcomers to the gas chambers. Those unsuspected newcomers who are left to believe that they are taken to shower before starting work. Saul’s work, also, involves disinfecting the gas chamber after use, going through the personal possessions of the dead looking for valueables, and disposing of the
ashes after the bodies are burned. It is after one of these gassings that Saul sees the body of a boy
whom he believes to be his illegitimate son. Out of circumstance, the Germans want to conduct an autopsy on the body. Almost at any cost, Saul goes on a mission to prevent the autopsy and steal the boy’s body so as to give it a proper Jewish burial. This means that he, also, has to find a rabbi to perform the burial. To accomplish his mission, he needs the assistance of fellow inmates. Meanwhile, he is told that they are trying to smuggle information outside the camp, providing thus evidence of the atrocities going on. An uprising against the captors seems to be underway. Saul has some issues in dealing with other men who see their own task as more important and as incompatible with his. However, the fact that their usefulness to their captors may soon be coming to an end, meaning their own death, alters things.