The young Miloš Hrma, who speaks with misplaced pride of his family of misfits and malingerers, is engaged as a newly trained station guard in a small railway station during the Second World War and the German occupation of Czechoslovakia. He admires himself in his new uniform, and looks forward, like his prematurely-retired railwayman father, to avoiding real work. The sometimes pompous stationmaster is an enthusiastic pigeon-breeder with a kind wife, but is envious of the train dispatcher Hubička's success with women. Miloš holds an as-yet platonic love for the pretty young conductor Máša. The experienced Hubička presses for details of their relationship and realizes that Miloš is still a virgin.
During World War II, a mild-mannered Slovak carpenter Anton "Tóno" Brtko (Jozef Kroner) is offered the chance to take over the sewing notions store of an old, near-deaf Jewish woman Rozália Lautmannová (Ida Kamińska) as a part of the enactment of an Aryanization regulation in the town. As Tóno attempts to explain to Mrs. Lautmannová, who is oblivious of the world outside and generally confused, that he has come to be her supervisor and owner of the store, Imrich Kuchár (Martin Hollý, Sr.), a Slovak opponent of Aryanization, steps in and reveals to Brtko that the business itself is less than profitable, as Lautmannová herself relies on donations. The Jewish community then offers the amiable Brtko a weekly payment if he does not give up the store, which would otherwise be given to a new, possibly ruthless Aryanizer. Tóno accepts and lets Mrs. Lautmannová believe he is her nephew who has come to help in the store. Their relationship grows, until the authorities round up the town's entire Jewish population for transport, and Tóno finds himself conflicted as to whether he should turn in the senile Mrs. Lautmannová, or hide her. When the woman finally becomes aware of the "pogrom" all around her, she panics, and in attempting to silence her, Tóno accidentally kills her. The realization devastates him, and he hangs himself.
Ce film est composé de cinq courts métrages réalisés chacun par un réalisateur différent, Self-service Univers (Automat Svet) de Věra Chytilová, Romance (Romance) de Jaromil Jireš, La mort de M. Baltazar (Smrt pana Baltazara) de Jiří Menzel, Les Imposteurs (Podvodníci) de Jan Němec et La Maison de joie (Dum radosti) d'Evald Schorm.
Trompé par sa femme, un avocat se met à boire au Bataillon, un bistrot des bas-fonds. Il tente d'aider les gens avec ses compétences juridiques et essaie de devenir un organiste d'église, mais l'alcool a le dessus...