Poland, 1944 Alfred Mendl counts down his final days within the confines of a hell on earth. His family was torn away from him on arrival, his life's work was burned before his eyes. Now his only joy comes from watching the occasional game of chess. To the guards he is unassuming, but in fact Mendl - a leading physicist - holds knowledge that only two people in the world possess. The other person is working hard for the Nazi war machine.