Early in the winter of 1945, the Red Army liberates Auschwitz, after which one of the prisoners, humanist Primo Levi begins his journey home to Turin. He boards a train that goes the wrong way, taking him further into Poland. After a short time under the guidance of a street-wise, philosophical Greek, Primo is remanded to a displaced persons camp, where freedom is limited, but music and dance rekindle human feeling. The Italians next try to reach Odesa to return home by ship; railroad lines take them only part way, to a Ukrainian camp, where the Greek runs a brothel, and they spend spring and summer. At last, another train takes them through German territory home, where Primo resolves to write his memoirs.