The war on the Russian front goes disastrously wrong, so Frieldhelm's realistic pessimism spreads among the decimated comrades in arms, who bravely
continue the near-hopeless battle assignments in a last hope offensive on Kursk. Friedhelm survives by wearing a Soviet uniform, only to be shot by his own men, yet is saved against the odds when nurse Charlotte begs the surgeon, who becomes her lover. At home, his father proves heartless, caring only for the presumed dead in action of firstborn hero Wilhelm, who actually deserted to live in a wood cabin but is found and condemned to the fire squad. Viktor is caught, sent to a concentration camp but escapes with a Polish girl. The are nearly denounced but brought to the partisans, who mistrust the off couple. Greta visits the front, sees the horror in Charlott'es field hospital and is arrested for publicly questioning the Nazi victory. Her lover learns about his child while questioning her.