The story takes place in Normandy in the winter of 1870, in a fictional chateau which is being used as a headquarters by Prussian officers. The main characters of the story are quickly introduced: the Major, a dignified and cultured German aristocrat; his Captain, a boorish and lecherous minor Prussian landowner; two lieutenants from the Prussian bourgeoisie; and the title character, a handsome but arrogant and extremely unpleasant German captain known to his comrades as 'Mademoiselle Fifi' due to his effeminate manner. The officers have been quartered in the chateau for several weeks, and as they are far away from the fighting and do not want to go out due to the endless rain, the officers are desperately bored. They have been spending their days drinking, gambling, and destroying the chateau's paintings, furniture and other fine objects. After a boring lunch, the aristocratic captain suggest a dinner party, and sends an army transport wagon to the local town to bring back some prostitutes to keep the officers company. In the evening, the party begins, and soon the officers and prostitutes are drunk and in high spirits. The officer known as Fifi, who has taken a Jewish prostitute called Rachel, starts smashing things and making violent sexual advances on Rachel. The party-goers start telling dirty jokes in bad French and the officers make a variety of slurred speeches praising German military prowess, which makes Rachel increasingly angry. When Fifi makes a speech proclaiming that France is crushed and that all of France, including all French women, are now Prussian property.