Rome 1944 - The last days of the Nazi Occupation. A group of partisans plan an attack on a German Wehrmacht 'police' column. At German headquarters, Lt. Col, Herbert Kappler (Richard Burton), the Gestapo chief, warns his commanding officer General Kurt Maezler (Leo McKern) not to allow the column to march the next day for fear of an attack. Tension mounts as the partisans carry out their bomb attack with 32 Germans dead and then seek refuge with Father Antonelli (Marcello Mastroianni). The German High Command gives orders for one of the war's most unforgiveable acts of revenge - "The Massacre of Rome".