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At the time of the German invasion of Romania in 1939 Johann Moritz, a simple peasant, is falsely branded as a Jew and sent to a German labor camp. The man responsible for the deportation is Nicolai Dobresco, a district police officer who covets Johann's wife, Suzanna. Suzanna successfully wards off Dobresco's advances, but later she is forced to divorce Johann in order to save their home from being confiscated as Jewish property. Eighteen months later Johann escapes from the labor camp to Hungary, but Jewish refugee organizations refuse to help him because he insists that he is not a Jew. Eventually, he is captured and, ironically, selected by a Nazi colonel as the perfect example of "racially pure German stock." He is inducted into the SS and is forced to pose for photographs used on the covers of magazines circulated throughout occupied Europe. After the war he is brought to trial at Nuremberg, where he is shown little leniency by the prosecuting officer. However, a letter from Suzanna explaining her endless attempts to secure Johann's release, her rape by Russian soldiers, and the subsequent birth of an illegitimate child, so deeply moves the court that Johann is freed. After an 8-year separation, Johann is reunited with his family.