Merging material from a diverse range of archives, the prominent Hungarian found-footage filmmaker Pèter Forgács brings to life a footnote from 20th-century history: an exodus in two opposite directions, driven by political forces.
In the summer of 1939, the president of the Jewish community in Bratislava hires two river cruise ships to bring a group of almost 900 Jews from Slovakia, Hungary and Austria down the Danube to the Black Sea. From there they will sail on to Palestine. One of the ships was the Erzsébet Királyné (Queen Elisabeth), under the command of Captain Nándor Andrásovits, also an avid amateur filmmaker. His cinematic impressions of life on board are combined with excerpts from letters and diary entries written by the ship’s passengers.
A year later, Captain Andrasovits and his ship are back in the Black Sea to transport hundreds of refugees again, this time up the river. The German community from Bessarabia (in the southwestern part of present-day Ukraine) is looking for safety after the country their forefathers settled in a century before gets invaded by the Soviet army.