Every Man Dies Alone begins with the postwoman delivering to Otto and Anna Quangel, the fictional counterparts of the Hampels, notice of their only son's death in the German army. Otto Quangel, a factory foreman who had never before concerned himself with politics or emotions, is moved enough by his wife's despair at the loss of their son to devise an act of resistance, on his own and unconnected to any of the cells of other resisting individuals in Berlin. Otto, later joined by Anna, wrote postcards criticizing Hitler and calling for disobedience and sabotage. (One card, shown in the appendix to the British edition of the book, read, "German People Wake Up.") They left the cards in public locations around the city. The Quangels hoped that the cards would be passed on between citizens, but such was the fear of being caught with contraband material that the cards were quickly turned over to the authorities. There follows a gripping account of the Gestapo tracking down the Quangels, torturing them and sending them to a puppet court to be sentenced to death.