Inside an old mill, a printing works has been set up by students opposing Napoleon, who has invaded Germany. Confusion reigns. Ricke has not had any news of her brother and her sweetheart Federico for a long time and she has been seduced by Worms. None other than Worms himself receives a letter from Federico saying that he is coming back to organize the resistance. Worms is ashamed of himself. Ricke reveals to him that she intends to tell Federico what happened between them. Worms asks her not to do it because it would lead to a duel, thus weakening their homeland. Ricke agrees. As soon as Federico arrives, he informs Ricke that her brother is dead. Before he has time to finish talking, the police raid the printing works in the old mill.
In a little house in the Black Forest, Ricke and Federico are getting married. The students have dispersed. During the ceremony, Worms arrives after a spell in captivity. He has suffered so much that he is unrecognizable. As soon as he finds out about the wedding, he decides to leave and asks Federico to meet him in Kant’s home city of Königsberg. The distressed Ricke runs away.
An underground meeting of a secret society is taking place in Königsberg. Some new members are about to be admitted, when one of them accuses Worms of cowardice. They are both wearing masks and when they remove them, the faces of Worms and Federico are revealed. Federico demands a duel but Worms refuses to defend himself. The arrival of the Queen puts a stop to the fighting and Worms joins all of the students in the secret society in swearing to die for their shared goal: a free Germany.
Worms pledged to die on the battlefield and combat has now taken place on the Leipzig plain. Ricke is looking for Federico: she finds him when he appears to be breathing his last and he asks who won. When she says “Germany”, it gives the dying man fresh strength and he asks her to seek out Worms and tell him that he forgives him. Ricke finds Worms dead with the colours by his side and covers him with them. As victory for Germany is sealed, Federico also dies, in Ricke’s arms.