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Nina Ivanova (Toumanova), a Russian dancer, becomes separated from a group sent to entertain the troops. She is found and taken to the hideout of a partisan group led by Vladimir (Peck) operating behind the German lines near the city of Tula. At first, the veteran guerrillas do not know what to make of her. Youngster Olga is astonished that she does not know how to fight, cook, mend or clean. The men, however, are entranced by her beauty. When a German soldier stumbles upon their lair, he is captured. Vladimir is ready to execute him out of hand for answering his questions with transparent lies. Nina is aghast at the thought. The highly educated Semyon persuades Vladimir to give the prisoner a fair trial the next day. That night, the German tries to escape, forcing Nina to shoot him. This act gains her the group's acceptance. The next time the guerrillas carry out an attack, Vladimir takes her along. They lay explosives under a railroad track and blow up a German ammunition train. While hiding from a German patrol, Vladimir and Nina embrace and kiss. Though she has fallen in love with him, she does not understand his ruthlessness. He explains that before the war he was an engineer, proud to have helped build a dam to provide electricity. He had to destroy it to keep it out the hands of the Germans. When Vladimir has to send a message to headquarters, he decides a woman would be less likely to be suspected. He chooses the veteran Yelena, the only other woman in the group and a skilled sniper. Yelena loves Vladimir herself. She is killed by the Germans, forcing Vladimir to try again, this time by sending Nina. However, he softens enough to send along the teenage Mitya. They get through, then rendezvous with Vladimir at a village with the message that the long hoped for first Russian counterattack will begin the next day ("The snow will fall tomorrow"). When a German officer unexpectedly confiscates the house in which Vladimir is hiding, Mitya spits in the German's face before he can discover the guerrilla leader. He is taken away and questioned. Nina begs Vladimir to do something, but he cannot risk endangering his part in the next day's operations. When Mitya refuses to betray his comrades, he is publicly hanged. Nina watches helplessly from the crowd. Vladimir is put in charge of all the local partisans. They are ordered to attack and then retreat to draw away a German reserve force. Thus, when the Russian spearhead breaks through, there will be nothing in its path. One by one, Vladimir's men die bravely. In the last scene, Vladimir and Nina resist as an enemy tank approaches and fills the screen, then blows up in front of them.