It is 1933 and young doctor, Josef Zeippchmann, begins his placement in a small provincial hospital in Germany. He is hopeful that his experimental research in tuberculosis will bring a breakthrough cure for the disease, but his enthusiasm and innovative but risky methods are met with scepticism and he is not easily accepted into the local community. Despite the fact that his treatment proves successful with Minna Wersen — a poor local girl, whom Joseph treats at his own expense — the doctors are not convinced. As the nationalistic and anti-Semitic atmosphere begins to thicken, life becomes increasingly difficult for Joseph and he is eventually accused of corruption and revolutionary violence and arrested. Only Minna believes in his innocence and she fights to rescue Joseph despite all the obstacles she encounters.
The Fire and the Wood tells a complicated tale of passion and love set against the political and economical tensions of mid-thirties Europe. It was first published in 1940.