Scientist Nelly Senff is desperate to escape her life in East Berlin. The father of her two children has supposedly committed suicide, and she wants to leave behind the prying eyes of the Stasi. But the West is not all she hoped for. Nelly and her children are held in Marienfelde, a processing centre and no-man's-land between East and West. There she meets Krystyna, a Polish woman who hopes that medical treatment in the West will save her dying brother; Hans, a troubled actor released from prison in the East; and John, a CIA man monitoring the refugees for possible Stasi spies. All lives cross here, and the cramped confines of the camp breed defamation and violence. West is a devastating portrait of a mother in turmoil, trying to do the best for her children, as she attempts to escape her past and start a new life.