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As an American train sealed for security travels through East Germany toward Frankfurt, Kathy, a nurse, sees Banner, a young East German, clinging to the outside of a window and helps him inside. The East German authorities are aware that the refugee, whose family has escaped to West Germany, is aboard, and they phone the border control station to order the train stopped. A reporter named Cowan discovers Banner and plans to expose the escape attempt in a big story since he feels no pity for the German people. The train's commanding officer, Lieutenant Novak, at first denies that the escapee is aboard and refuses to allow the compartments to be searched. When he learns the true situation, however, he wires his colonel for instructions. At Marienborn the train is halted, and the stalemate continues with U. S. and Russian authorities taking opposite sides. Novak risks a possible court martial by promising the refugee that he will not be relinquished. Banner forces the issue when he makes another abortive escape attempt in front of the Russians. The carefully guarded secrecy surrounding the story leaks out, and West Berlin radios carry the news. With the incident reaching international proportions, Novak is forced to turn the young man over to Russian authorities.