Karol Borowiecki a managing engineer of Bucholz's textile factory in turn of the century Lódz, but plans to set up his own factory with the help of his friends: Max Baum, heir to an old handloom works, and Moritz Welt, an independent wheeler-dealer. Karol's affair with Lucy Zucker, wife of another textile magnate gives him advance notice of a change in the cotton tariff which enables Moritz to get startup costs via a killing on the Hamburg futures market. Karol and his friends continue to have credit troubles, necessitating a drastic measures, Moritz directly confronting Grunspan, while Karol must sell off the family estate, moving his aged father and his finance Anka to Lodz. On the day of the factory opening, Karol must deny his affair with Zucker's wife to a jealous husband. But while Karol accompanies Lucy on her exile to Berlin, Zucker apparently takes his revenge by burning down the uninsured factory. Karol's only way out is to accept a previously-offered marriage with the air headed daughter of German millionaire Muller.