On 8 May 1945, the day of Germany's surrender at the end of World War II, exiled communist Erich Braun returns along with the Red Army to his native city of Dresden, only three months after it was devastated in aerial bombardment. He aids a group of Soviet soldiers to recover the art of the Old Masters Picture Gallery from the ruins of the Zwinger Palace. During the next five days, while searching for the collection, he encounters several of the city's residents who have also returned from the war. Although they distrust the Soviets at first, they eventually assist them to recover the pictures.
Wilhelm Koch-Hooge as Erich Braun
Annekathrin Bürger as Katrin
Erich Franz as Father Baum
Heinz-Dieter Knaup as Paul Naumann
Evgenia Kozireva as Nikitina
Marga Legal as Luise Ramk
Mikhail Mayorov as General
Vladimir Pitsek as Galkin
Nikolai Pogodin as Rudakov
Vsevolod Safonov as Captain Leonov
Vsevolod Sanaev as Sergeant Kozlov
Raimund Schelcher as farmer
Gennadi Yukhtin as Strokov
The picture's plot was inspired by the recovery of the art of the Old Masters Picture Gallery through the hands of Soviet troops in 1945. The art collection was then taken to the USSR, where it was kept until being returned to the Dresden Gallery during 1960. The film was the first Soviet–East German co-production in the field of cinema.
Five Days, Five Nights sold more than two million tickets in the German Democratic Republic.
The film critic of Der Spiegel described the picture as "making no claim to document history truthfully", while also quoting Walter Ulbricht, who called it "a great work of the Working Class" and a monument to Soviet–East German friendship. The Die Zeit reviewer wrote: "the film portrays the Germans quite objectively. But the Soviets? We could only wish for it. Although we well realize that could not have been as they are depicted: noble, faultless and helpful."