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By early 1945, the last remaining span across the Rhine into Germany is the Ludendorff bridge at Remagen. When General von Brock, the German commander in the area, receives orders to destroy the bridge, he delays rather than abandon 50,000 of his men to the onrushing American soldiers. Placing the aristocratic Maj. Paul Kreuger in charge, von Brock instructs him to hold the bridge as long as possible. At the same time, U. S. Brigadier General Shinner hopes to trap the retreating Germans by ordering an armored infantry division to spearhead a drive for the Rhine. Leading the offensive is Major Barnes, an ambitious career officer who is disliked by most of his men, particularly Lieut. Phil Hartman, his platoon leader. Hartman is also at odds with Sergeant Angelo, a scavenger who searches for valuables on the bodies of the dead German soldiers. Upon reaching a town near Remagen, the Americans prepare to billet for the night, but they are ordered to push on toward the Rhine. Kreuger, meanwhile, is trying to rally his defense forces while waiting for explosives to arrive. Although the Americans meet stiff opposition as they enter Remagen, their tanks crash the barricades and head for the bridge. Kreuger delays dynamiting the bridge to allow a German train to attempt a crossing and then sets off his explosives, only to discover that they are defective. Seizing upon the German failure, General Shinner orders that the bridge be taken intact. By night, the Americans have crossed the bridge after heavy fighting which unites Hartman and Angelo in a common cause. Kreuger, refusing to admit defeat, asks for reinforcements, but he is shot by an SS firing squad for failing to destroy the bridge. The American victory becomes meaningless, however, when in March 1945, the bridge collapses.