The real life story of Jacques Austerlitz who, at the age of 5, came to London on one of the so-called kinder-transports in the summer of 1939. Austerlitz is placed with foster parents in wales, a childless couple who, for reasons of their own, erase in the boy all knowledge of his identity. Though he does, later on as an adult, have intimations of his otherness, Austerlitz, whose profession is that of an architectural historian, goes through life assiduously avoiding all clues that might point to his origins and to the fate of his true parents. It is only in his retirement that the past returns to haunt him and makes him explore what happened to him half a century previously, taking him back on a journey into the heart of Europe on the edge of war. The main locations of the book are Wales, London, Prague, and various places in Belgium and Paris.