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1934, Germany. Jan is a 13 year old boy, who is raised without a mother. His father, a communist, is accused of a political murder, and predicted to be shot by the police when he was on the run. Jan lives with his aunt and finds a friend, Max, who wants to help him to find out what really with his father happened. During a conspirative gathering Max is shot by SA (Nazi paramilitary) and Jan succeed to escape in a barge. Erika, the daughter of the captain of the barge, and a boatman hide him. They try to help Jan to escape from police and find his father, who really survived.
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Auguste Lazar's story of the same name is the basis for the 1986 German children's film Jan und der Zille.