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This is the story of two boys, Roberto and Samuele in Venice, Italy in WWII. Samuele is Jewish and must hide this fact from the German soldiers who take him, Roberto, and other boys and force them on a train to the Ukraine. The boys are to work by building landing fields for planes and doing anything else the Axis powers might need. Memo, another friend taken with Samuele, is street smart and immediately knows they must call Samuele by another less Jewish-sounding name, Enzo. Enzo must also hide his circumcision from the Germans and the other boys. While bathing, another boy notices Enzo is circumcised and blackmails him for his daily food ration. Enzo is later killed when he's beaten for the boots he had taken off of dead German soldiers. Roberto buries him, promising to fight for survival, and then Roberto escapes. He meets several people on his journey and finally gets to Italy, where he joins the partisans (the partigianos) to help end the war.

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