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A group of Russian peasant children are gathering grain in advance of the Nazi invasion of Stalingrad when they become aware that the Germans are approaching and hence pile into their wagon to flee for their lives. While fording a small stream, the wagon gets stuck, forcing the children to abandon it. In the nearby woods, they find the body of an unconscious boy, and Nadya, one of the children, insists on taking him to safety. Soon after, a shell strikes their wagon and destroys it, causing the others to blame the boy for their bad luck. Four of the children--Nadya, Kolya, their leader, the guitar-playing Grisha, and Pavel--build a stretcher and carry the boy to their village. Finding their homes in ruins, they are about to take refuge in a cellar when they hear cries and pull the seven-year-old Yura from the rubble. In the cellar, Tommy Hudson, the boy they found in the woods, regains consciousness and tells the others that his father, a British engineer working for the Russians, was brutally murdered by a Nazi major for having blown up the great dam across the Dneiper River. Imbued with patriotic fervor, the children decide to become guerillas, and begin to harry a nearby Nazi detachment. The children's kitchen smoke and flying flags lead the Nazis to believe that there is a strong Russian force occupying the village. Fearing an ambush, the Nazis order an aerial bombardment to level the area before their ground forces enter. The children survive the fearful bombing, determined more than ever to thwart the Germans. The Nazis are mystified when their tanks continue to be sabotaged and guns and equipment disappear. When the Nazi major and a soldier capture Grisha after he steals the soldier's guitar, Grisha pretends to be an idiot. Ashamed that his force has been held up by mere children, the major shoots the soldier in the back so that he will not be able to divulge the secret. Then he releases Grisha, planning to follow the boy back to his hideout. Aware that he is being trailed, Grisha plays his guitar to lure the officer past the boys, who are hiding in a pile of rocks. The boys knock the major unconscious with one of the rocks, and when he awakens, he is led to the cellar, where the children threaten to kill him for his crimes. When Tommy says that he is not the major who killed his father, however, the children relent and decide to turn the officer over to the Russian army. Nadya and Yura remain in the cellar while Kolya, Tommy, Grisha and Pavel accompany the officer onto the street. There, they are stopped by a patrol of Germans who free the major and kill Grisha. Tommy, Kolya and Pavel manage to escape and return to the cellar to discover that it has been destroyed, with the bodies of Nadya and Yura strewn in the wreckage. After splitting up with the others, Tommy makes his way to the German camp and demands to see the major. Upon coming face to face with the officer, Tommy pulls a grenade from his pocket and extracts the pin, blowing up himself, the major and the other Germans. After witnessing Tommy's sacrifice, Kolya and Pavel return to the village, where the pervading silence announces the advance of Russian troops. Under tattered Russian flags, Kolya and Pavel proudly march down the deserted street, knowing that their valiant efforts have helped their countrymen defeat the Nazi invaders.