The unimaginable slaughter that has become the First World War has continued unabated since August 1914, and now, in the late fall of 1918, on an obscure railway siding at Compiègne, France, a group of intractable old men gather to negotiate an armistice.
With Allied victory a certainty, monumental old Marshall Foch, flanked by Maxime Weygand and British Admiral Wemyss, seeks to crush the enemy at the negotiating table. With the Kaiser in seclusion, idealist Matthias Erzberger has been dispatched to pick what shards of mercy he can from the wreckage of the old order.
As the Allied leaders press for total submission, Erzberger, haunted by the prospect of famine and revolution in the gathering German winter, angles for better terms. And so they talk on and on, as the guns roar and men continue to die.