A group led by American Alan Mackenzie daringly escaped from communist Hungary during the brutal Soviet repression of the popular uprising of 1956.
Twelve years later, at the height of the Cold War, Alan and two of the Hungarian participants, Frank and Maria, are reunited to help organize the defection of a high-ranking East German official who can identify communist moles in the American government. The resources of the American intelligence agencies could not be used to find moles within their own ranks; therefore, the President and the Secretary of State decided to find help elsewhere.
Under difficult conditions, the defector is extricated, concealed in an American tour group of vacationing movie technicians and small-time actors traveling by bus through Austria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, and Poland.
The operation is flawlessly planned, and yet something goes wrong. The disappearance is discovered within a few hours. Due to the high rank of the missing official, the police investigation turns overnight into a massive manhunt involving the tour passengers in an increasingly dangerous contest of wits with the feared Stasi, the East German secret police. Under pressure from their highest party leaders, the frustrated Stasi escalate their search into obsessive, desperate actions.