In a Russian P.O.W. camp, four young Germans determined to end the Second World War exchange their uniforms for those of the Red Army. They travel to the frontlines, but their new Russian comrades are initially unsure whether to accept them.
Three of the men accept a mission behind German lines, but their unpreparedness to fire upon their countrymen ends up costing them the life of a fellow soldier. In the meantime, the one man who remained in Russia falls in love with a radio operator named Swetlana. After much criticism from the other Russians, he too agrees to participate in the mission. Although the young men are not model heroes, they try fulfill the responsibilities they have taken on.
The film, which centers on difficult moral questions of war, draws on director Konrad Wolf's own experiences as a Russian propaganda officer in Germany at the end of WWII.