In 1945, as the Allies approach Buchenwald, a 4-year-old Polish boy is smuggled via suitcase into the infamous concentration camp, where he is hidden by camp leader Walter Kraemer (Geschonneck) at the behest of fellow inmate Hofel (Muller-Stahl), who knows the SS will shoot him on sight. Moved by the child's innocence, the prisoners secret him from one hiding spot to another, but it's only a matter of time before the Nazis are alerted to his presence, forcing the men to an uncertain fate.
Based on a true story and presaging such Holocaust dramas as "Schindler's List," Beyer's "Wolves" concerns the real-life efforts of dozens of concentration-camp inmates to hide an orphan from their Nazi captors. An influential and important film produced in East Germany with little-known actors (only Mueller-Stahl's career would continue in Europe), "Wolves" speaks to the will to survive terrible atrocity and highlights the bravery of ordinary men who find themselves in an extreme situation. The final riot scene is a cathartic climax to a compelling film.