In Cracow as well, when once I went to the ghetto and stood in the doorway of one of the houses, a young man of haggard and sweaty face, tightly wrapped up in a worn-out shawl, sitting in the corner of a room with a book in his hands, stood up on seeing me. Upon my asking him what he was reading, he showed me the cover of the book – it was Engels's letters. And shortly he started getting ready to leave. He laced his shoes, pulled up some dirty rags that served as his socks, pulled out a ragged shirt collar and carefully straightened it atop his jacket's collar. All the while he was coughing, covering his mouth with a skinny hand. He turned around, gesturing goodbye to the people gathered in the room, who kept staring at him in silence. Then suddenly, already in the doorway, he unwrapped his shawl and gently placed it on the shoulders of an elderly woman sitting in a shakedown. Then he quickly followed me outside to the stairs. He couldn’t understand, he didn't believe when I explained to him with a smile that he can return to his house. When I saw him taking off his shawl, it reminded me of a sight I witnessed one morning when I was walking through the ghetto: two completely naked Jews were walking between two SS men. One of the Jews was a bearded old man, the other was but a boy, he could have been sixteen at the most. When I reported this encounter to Wächter, the governor of Cracow, he graciously informed me that oftentimes when the Gestapo comes to take them away, the Jews strip naked and distribute their clothes among family and friends: after all they do not need them anymore. They walked naked in the snow, on a freezing Winter morning, at thirty five degrees below zero, in razor-sharp frost.
English translation by Paulina Ohar-Zima
(born in Prato in 1898, died in Rome in 1957), famous Italian prose writer (author of The Skin), journalist and diplomat. His true name was Kurt Erich Suckert (his father was German, and his mother was Italian); the pen name he assumed in 1925 refers to the name of Napoleon. In the early 1920s when Malaparte was adherent to fascism, he was the cultural attaché to Warsaw. In the early 1930s he left the party (as a result of a conflict with Mussolini) and moved to Paris. His further political and ideological biography seems extremely complicated. In 1933 he returned to Italy, where he was arrested and deported, but later he was a war correspondent. His reportages (including the works collected in his best known volume Kaputt, written in the years 1941-1943) have an anti-German overtone, so as a result she was dismissed from his post of reporter on the front. From 1943 he supported the American occupation authorities in Italy. Ultimately took interest in Maoism.