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Towards the end of World War II, people in big cities are at the mercy of air raids and death by starvation. A desperate young mother leaves her 13-year-old twin sons at their grandmother's house in the country, despite the fact that this grandmother is a cruel and bestial alcoholic. The villagers call her "the Witch" because she is rumored to have poisoned her husband long ago. Previously pampered, the twins must learn how to survive alone in their new, rural surroundings. They realize that the only way to cope with the absurd and inhumane world of adults and war is to become completely unfeeling and merciless.