Russian children out in the fields gathering grain find themselves in the path of the invading German army making its way to Stalingrad, a target city of their onslaught. The four youths, Kolya, Grisha, Pavel, and the girl, Nadya, realize the German army, is attacking so they set fire to the grain field's harvest. Returning to their village the children find Tommy, a hurt English consulate's son fleeing the city with his parents who perished in the attempt. They stretcher him to their village for recovery. Still alive in the rubble of the village is a young child Yuri whom the group takes in also. Kolya, the oldest assumes leadership and skirmishes to find food for the group, living in a village cellar. He discovers a German tank encampment and sabotages a tank. A Nazi Major commander sends men to scout the village who are met by resistance from the children using found weapons. The Major believes a large guerilla force is present and halts his advance to neutralize it. The Nazi soldiers capture Grisha who feigns dim wittedness. The Major believing the boy harmless, lets him go, thinking he will lead him to the Russian resistance forces. But Grisha leads the Major into a trap where the children overpower him and take him to their village refuge for questioning. The Germans, searching for their commander come upon the village and in the shooting kill all the children save Tommy who while in their midst explodes a grenade destroying himself, and the Germans around him. A German General later views the scene with much consternation and bewilderment. The surviving child patriots Kolya and Pavel are subsequently lauded by the defending Russian forces for having delayed the Nazis attacking the city long enough to allow Soviet forces time to mount their defenses against the attack on Stalingrad.
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