Germany in Autumn does not have a plot per se; it mixes documentary footage, along with standard movie scenes, to give the audience the mood of Germany during the late 1970s. The movie covers the two month time period during 1977 when a businessman was kidnapped, and later murdered, by the left-wing terrorists known as the RAF-Rote Armee Fraktion (Red Army Faction). The businessman had been kidnapped in an effort to secure the release of the orginal leaders of the RAF, also known as the Baader-Meinhof gang.
In May of 1983, a man turns 49 and, with his 17-year old son, journeys to the village in Baden that he left 40 years before. He wants to discover what happened then, the truth about an affair his mother had with a young Polish prisoner of war, how the authorities came to learn of it, the lovers' arrest, and the aftermath. While his son takes Polaroid photographs, he retraces the steps of his childhood and interviews those who should remember. The story is disclosed in flashbacks that focus on the lovers (Paulina and Stanislaus), on a jealous and conniving neighbor, and on Mayer, the local SS commander who wants to find a way out of inevitable consequences.
Thirteen German directors present short films exploring the state of their country.