"Clemens Forell is a German Wehrmacht soldier who was captured by the Soviets in 1945. Forell is sentenced to 25 years hard labour for "crimes against the partisans" and sent as part of a large group of prisoners to a Gulag labour camp in the Siberian region of the Soviet Union. After a huge cross-continent railway journey on starvation rations, and a long-cross-country trek by foot into the bleak wilderness, they arrive at the gulag. This is run by a cruel commander, Lieutenant Kamenev. After one unsuccessful attempt, Forell ultimately does escape with the aid of the camp doctor, Dr. Stauffer.
Stauffer had planned to escape himself, but is terminally ill with cancer, so he gives Forell warm clothes and a loaded pistol, and explains where he has hidden supplies for a long journey. Forell promises to visit the doctor's wife in Magdeburg and tell her that he is already dead. Forell heads north to avoid the guards, who would expect him to go west. When the supplies given to him by Dr. Stauffer run out, he kills a seal for food. Over the winter, he wanders across northern Siberia, until he meets Anastas and Semyon, two gold prospectors. Although initially suspicious of them, Forell eventually joins them. After Semyon falls in a river and Forell rescues him, Semyon kills Anastas when he suspects him of stealing his gold. Semyon and Forell then continue their journey.
When Semyon can no longer continue, Forell offers to carry his pack for him, but a suspicious Semyon throws him down a slope, thinking he too will try to steal his gold. Beset by wolves, Forell is rescued by nomadic Chukchi herders, one of whom, named Irina, falls in love with him. After he makes a successful recovery, the Chukchi find out the Soviets are looking for Forell. Much to Irina's chagrin, Forell leaves, with the dog the Chukchi give him for companionship. When he runs into a logging operation, Forell is sent on the train with the freight as a brakeman. Betrayed, he is nearly captured by the Soviets, led by Kamenev. Although Forell manages to escape, his dog is shot and killed when he attacks and mauls Kamenev, leaving him permanently scarred.
Over the next year, Forell makes his way to Central Asia. A Polish Jewish man helps him acquire a passport despite the fact that Forell is German, and Forell makes his way to the Iranian border. As he is walking to freedom, he sees Kamenev walking towards him from the Iranian side. Petrified, Forell stares at Kamenev and a showdown looms. However, Kamenev steps aside and lets Forell pass, declaring that "the victory is mine". Once on the Iranian side, Forell is believed to be a Soviet spy and taken prisoner. His uncle who works in Ankara, Turkey, however, is brought to identify him, and Forell is freed. Arriving in West Germany at Christmas, Forell sees his family leave for church. He then arrives at the church, where he is reunited with his family."
-Wikipedia Based on the true story of Cornelius Rost, with the audio of the movie in its original language (German) with English subtitles.