skip navigation


TCM Messageboards
Post your comments here

Remind Me

TCMDb Archive MaterialsView all archives (0)


powered by AFI

During World War II, three American infantrymen are looking for snipers in the small German town of Rothbach, which has largely been destroyed, when they come under fire. Two of the men are killed, but the injured survivor, Sgt. David Brent, finds his way to a house, where Helga Schiller, a young German woman, dresses his wound. Helga speaks English and explains that she is anti-Nazi but has not left as she is looking after her sick mother. Helga's fifteen-year-old brother Franz is a member of the Hitler Youth and very bitter because an American bomb severed his left arm. The next day, when incoming German troops try to secure the town against advancing American forces, Helga hides David, as she feels that she has to prove to him that there is a difference between a Nazi and a German. The American troops eventually arrive and find David, but before leaving, he writes a letter to the American authorities on Helga's behalf stating that she and her family have helped him and that she is not a Nazi. Later, while he recovers in a military hospital, David decides that he wants to stay on in Germany and intends to marry Helga, although he is officially warned about predatory "fraĆ¼leins." The war ends and David returns to Rothbach, which is now under the jurisdiction of the American Military Government. Helga is astonished by his return and worried that he may get into trouble for fraternizing with a German. David explains that he has been discharged from the Army and is now a civilian and will be working for the government as a liaison between the town's mayor and the Army. As a civilian, David can marry Helga and she happily accepts his proposal. Later, Helga assists Bruno, a returning German soldier, and has to give him the news that his parents and sweetheart have been killed. When Bruno states that Germany has not been defeated, merely occupied, Helga realizes that he is still a Nazi. During a honeymoon on a boat on the Rhine, David and Helga hear a radio broadcast about the on-going "Werwolf" activities of the Hitler Youth. The military government, for which David is working, is involved in rounding up war criminals to be tried at Nuremberg and learns that Himmler had set up a secret army of delinquents, the Werwolf, to perpetuate the war after defeat. Franz has joined the local Werwolf, which is being run by Bruno, who indoctrinates all the young men as Hitler did. They plan to kill all the Americans and are becoming successful in ambushing U.S. patrols and hijacking food supplies. They organize a hunger protest in front of the government building, and although David tells the crowd that America is sending much aid to Germany, he is beaten up when the protest turns into a riot. Capt. Harvey, David's boss, then suspends him and ultimately lets all civilian staff go. Harvey offers to arrange for David to return to America, but David intends to stay with his now pregnant wife. Bruno tells David that he is stupid to give up his country for a woman like Helga, whom he claims, told him she would have lived with any American and has referred to David as her "American goldmine." When David returns home and tells Helga that he has lost his job, but will find another locally, she tells him that the Germans will not give him work and urges him to return to America, then send for her. After David asks Helga why she married him, she admits that it was for food and protection, but that she has grown to love him. David tells her that she is lower than a streetwalker, but will support her until their child is born, whereupon he will take the child to America. When Franz tells Helga that the Werwolf are selling stolen food and medicine on the black market and are helping war criminals to escape from Germany, she feels that she must tell him about all the crimes the Nazis committed. Helga takes Franz to the War Crimes Trial at the Nuremberg Palace of Justice, and they are present when a prosecutor presents film footage detailing the rise of the Nazis. Franz realizes that Bruno has become a new Hitler and watches with mounting horror as films of the atrocities committed at concentration camps are shown. Although Franz sobs and says he did not know about the camps, Helga insists that he watch. When they return to Rothbach, Franz tells David that Helga wants him to tell Harvey that Bruno is a Werwolf leader and reveal the location of their meeting place. After David arranges for a raid on the Werwolf headquarters, he gets his job back and returns to Helga and her mother. Meanwhile, Franz attempts to steal a list of Werwolf members from its hiding place in a railway boxcar, but is discovered by Bruno. After knocking him unconscious, Franz leaves Bruno to die in an accidental fire that consumes the boxcar.