In the midst of the revolutionary activities disrupting daily life in his native Bavaria during 1848, young Heinrich Bergmann receives an invitation from a former neighbour to join him in southern Africa.
Heinrich accepts and crosses Europe to reach London, where he embarks on a sailing ship bound for Cape Town. Bad weather, a mutiny and other problems prolong the voyage, and Heinrich arrives in Cape Town to discover that the person, who invited him, has left.
It does not take Heinrich long to become involved in the burgeoning Jewish trading community in Cape Town. He joins a firm which, after a short while, sends him out into the wilds to the newly established town of Aliwal North. His mission is to open and establish a general trading store.
Heinrich is successful, and soon becomes wealthy. After a few years, he returns to Germany to find himself a Jewish bride. He marries the daughter of a wealthy Frankfurt banker, and returns with her to Aliwal North.
The years pass by, and his prosperity and status continue to increase. One day, out of the blue, he is approached by a gold prospector, who believes that there might well be rich deposits of gold in the distant Transvaal. The prospector and his friends are ready to dig a mine, but they lack finance. Lured by the prospect of wealth and adventure, Heinrich makes a large investment, which leads to fateful consequences...