Summer 1944: Fighting a war that is already lost, Walter, a young German soldier, is on route to the Eastern Front when his train is blown up by a landmine. Luckily, he survives and is instead posted to a small unit in the Polish woods, surrounded by partisans. Ordered by his sadistic commander to perform deeds of brutality, he is soon torn between a sense of duty, guilt and his conscience, not made any easier by his love for the Polish partisan Wanda, who is expecting his child. Sworn to uphold his military vows, he is yet disgusted by the escalating cruelty and, like many of his compatriots, no longer knows why, who, or what he's fighting for. Escaping death when his unit is wiped out and faced by this moral dilemma, he ultimately defects and, by January 1945, is part of the Red Army – sure that he is finally fighting for the right cause. Yet in the aftermath of war, in Berlin's Soviet Zone, he has his doubts as he realizes that neither he nor the country can shed the burdens of the past. Once again, as his fate hangs in the balance, he is forced to make a moral decision, defecting yet again – this time, to the West.