Amidst the lights and glamour of the New York theater district during the 1950s, two Holocaust survivors confront each other in order to reckon with a common past - one that hides an awful secret. Jud Kramer, a successful stage director, is in the midst of mounting his most painful and personal play while trying to enjoy the happiness he has found with his beautiful actress wife and baby daughter. Into his life comes Carl Walkowitz, a brooding, charismatic drifter who displays the scars of his concentration camp past in his wounded leg and half-closed eye. It is the relationship of these two men, one who lives in the past and the other trying to grasp hold of the present, that drives the story of Who Shall Live, Who Shall Die to its terrifying conclusion. Step by step, inexorably, Walkowitz strips Jud of everything dear to him, until finally, standing on an empty stage, the two men, with a woman between them, come face to face in a life-and-death struggle only one of them can survive.