East Germany, 1980. Barbara Wolff is a talented young doctor who has applied for an exit visa from the GDR and, as punishment, has been transferred from her prestigious post in Berlin to a small pediatric hospital in the country. Even though she is constantly aware of the very real shadowy presence of, and overwhelming numbers of Stasi officers chronicling her every move, every waking hour, she arrives at her new post having already planned a series of dangerous assignations with her lover, with whom she plans to escape to the West, to Poland.
To Barbara, everyone is suspect as a potential betrayer at her new hospital, everyone except the patients, who receive every ounce of her compassion and loyalty, without hesitation. One such potential enemy is a young doctor named Andre. Initially rejecting his overtures of friendship, she is perplexed by his talent, his determination, and his sincerity. It doesn’t jive with the enemies she sees, and those she doesn’t see, all around her. His side interests in art and music, which mirror her own, cause her to let down her guard a bit, and an attraction grows, an attraction she knows she can’t afford to nurture.
In a rare moment of dual repose Andre confides to Barbara that he wound up at this particular post, in self-exile, after an intern whose work he was overseeing made a tragic, unintentional mistake that caused the blindness of two young children. As poignant as the story is Barbara can’t help herself from asking, “Is the story true?”
A young female patient, Stella, arrives at the hospital suffering from meningitis. She immediately latches onto Barbara as the only doctor from whom she will allow treatment and visitation. Barbara takes on a maternal role in addition to her role as a healer as soon as she learns Stella is pregnant.
Life-turning decisions must be made: Will she permit Stella to be returned to a work camp once the meningitis is treated, a fate that will almost certainly imperil the life of Stella’s unborn child; will she continue to fall in love with a doctor in whom she sees a kindred spirit, a relationship, should it flourish, that might doom her to remain in the East; will an escape plan hatched by her lover be carried out or thwarted when her prodigious medical skills are suddenly required to possibly save the life of a new patient?
BARBARA is a story of self-sacrifice and freedom and quiet heroism at a time and place when such values are at a premium. It is also about a healer whose morality and set of personal ethics are being called into questions by circumstances specific to that same time and place in history.