Curzio Malaparte, choice cuts of The Skin with photos by Lieutenant Wayne Miller illustrating

the moon broke the edge of the crater like an eggshell

— Malaparte, The Skin, translated brilliantly by David Moore, New York Review Book publication, 2013. Original work published as La pelle, 1949. p. 36

All of us, officers and men, vied with one another to see which of us could throw our arms and flags in the mud most “heroically.” We threw them at the feet of everyone, victors and vanquished, friend and foe, even at the feet of the passersby, even at the feet of those who, not knowing what it was all about, stopped and looked at us in amazement. Laughingly we threw our arms and our flags in the mud, and immediately ran to pick them up so that we could start all over again.

— Ibid., p.58

We marched with heads high, singing, proud at having taught the peoples of Europe that in these days the only way to win wars is to throw one’s arms and one’s flags heroically in the mud.

— Ibid., p.59

Naples, Italy, August 1944. Ensign K. Dimin, (left), and Lieutenant Fritz Plumer, relax in former Royal Palace at Naples, Italy. Steichen Photograph Unit: Photographed by Lieutenant Wayne Miller, August 1944. TR-11092. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. (2015/12/08).

Jimmy was an honest fellow, socially of the middle class, and of moderate culture. In civil life he was a clerk in an insurance company. His culture was of a standard far lower than that of any European of his station. It was certainly not to be expected that a little American clerk, who had landed in Italy for the purpose of fighting the Italians and punishing them for their sins and their crimes, should set himself up as the Christ of the Italian people. It was not even to be expected that he should know essential facts about modern civilization—for instance, that a capitalist society (if one disregards Christian pity, and weariness of and disgust with Christian pity, which are sentiments peculiar to the modern world) is the most feasible expression of Christianity; that without the existence of evil there can be no Christ; that capitalist society is founded on the conviction that in the absence of beings who suffer a man cannot enjoy to the full his possessions and his happiness; and that without the alibi of Christianity capitalism could not prevail.

— Ibid., pp.62-63

Naples, Italy, August 1944. Children in Naples. Little boy helps one-legged companion across the street. Steichen Photography Unit: Photographed by Lieutenant Wayne Miller, August 1944. TR-11306. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

Malaparte on his dog, Febo:

“His mere presence helped me to acquire that contempt for mankind on which the serenity and wisdom of a human being primarily depend.”

— Ibid., p.165

Naples, Italy, August 1944. Children in Naples, Italy. A group of little Italian boys pose. Steichen Photograph Unit: Photographed by Lieutenant Wayne Miller, August 1944. TR-11307. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. (2015/12/08).

The edges of those dreadful wounds were held apart by thin steel wires, wound round wooden pegs of the kind that in musical instruments serves to keep the strings taut. One could see the naked heart beating; the lungs, with the veins of the bronchial tubes looking like the branches of a tree, swelling exactly as the foliage of a tree does when the wind blows; the red, shining liver very slowly contracting; slight tremors running through the pink and white substance of the brain as in a steamy mirror; the coils of the intestines sluggishly disentangling themselves like a heap of snakes waking from their deep slumber. And not a moan came from the half-open mouths of the tortured dogs.

And suddenly I saw Febo.

He was lying on his back, his stomach exposed and a probe buried in his liver. He was staring at me; his eyes were full of tears, and they had in them a wonderful tenderness. He was breathing gently, his mouth half-open, and his body was trembling horribly. He was staring at me, and an agonizing pain stabbed at my heart. “Febo,” I said in a low voice; and Febo looked at me with a wonderfully tender expression. In him I saw Christ, in him I saw Christ crucified, I saw Christ looking at me with eyes that were full of a wonderful tenderness. “Febo,” I said in a low voice, bending over him and stroking his forehead. Febo kissed my hand, and not a moan escaped him.

The all had a wonderfully tender expression in their eyes, and not the faintest moan escaped them.

Suddenly I uttered a cry of terror. “Why this silence?” I shouted. “What does this silence mean?”

It was a horrible silence—a vast, chilling, deathly silence, the silence of snow.

The doctor approached me with a syringe in his hand. “Before we operate on them,” he said, “we cut their vocal cords.”

— Ibid., pp.170-172

Naples, Italy, August 1944. Children in Naples, Italy. Little girl holds her apparently blind baby brother. Steichen Photograph Unit: Photographed by Lieutenant Wayne Miller, August 1944. TR-11308. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

General Cork asked what Germany, France and Sweden were really like. “The Comte de Gobineau,” I replied, “has described Germany as les Indes de l’Europe.” “France,” I replied, “is an island surrounded by land.” “Sweden,” I replied, “is a forest of fir trees in dinner jackets.” “That’s funny!” they all exclaimed, looking at me in amazement. Then, blushing, he asked me whether it was true that in Rome “there were bro…hm…I mean…a maison de tolerance for the priests. “They say there’s a very smart one in Via Giulia,” I replied. “That’s funny!” They all exclaimed, looking at me in amazement. Then he asked me why the Italian people had not had a revolution before the war to throw out Mussolini. “So as not to displease Roosevelt and Churchill, who were great friends of Mussolini before the war,” I replied. “That’s funny!” they all exclaimed, looking at me in amazement. Then he asked what a totalitarian State was. “It’s a State in which everything that isn’t forbidden is compulsory,” I replied. “That’s funny!” they all exclaimed, looking at me in amazement.

— Ibid., p.206

Naples, Italy, August 1944. Children in Naples, Italy. Boys on cart. Steichen Photograph Unit: Photographed by Lieutenant Wayne Miller, August 1944. TR-11320. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. (2015/12/08).

I like to remain detached from danger—to be able to stretch out my arm blindly and lightly touch it, as one touches something cold with one’s hand in the dark.

— Ibid., p.247

Naples, Italy, August 1944. Children play while mother works. Steichen Photograph Unit: Photographed by Lieutenant Wayne Miller, August 1944. TR-13030. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. (2015/12/08).

As always, the populace ascribed to that awful scourge the character of a punishment from heaven … [for the] sins, the corruption and viciousness of men. And side by side with repentance, with a melancholy desire to expiate their misdeeds, with the eager hope of seeing the wicked punished, with an ingenuous confidence in the justice of a Nature that was so cruel and unjust—side by side with shame at their own wretchedness, of which the people are sadly conscious, there was growing up, as always, in the minds of the populace a base feeling of impunity, the origin of so many deeds of wickedness, and a miserable conviction that in the midst of such great destruction, such widespread chaos, anything is lawful and just. And so men were seen in those days to perform deeds both base and sublime, inspired by blind fury or by cold reason, almost by a wonderful desperation.

— Ibid., p.263

Naples, Italy, August 1944. Reading notices. Steichen Photograph Unit: Photographed by Lieutenant Wayne Miller, August 1944. TR-13034. U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. (2015/12/08).

if there’s one chapter you must read of this The Skin, it’s the one called The Flag, “the flag of the country of all peoples and all men,” “It was a flag made of human skin”.

Naples, Italy, August 1944. Older woman holds baby. Steichen Photograph Unit: Photographed by Lieutenant Wayne Miller, August 1944. TR-13038. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. (2015/12/08).

more of Lieutenant Wayne Miller’s photographs, here. (Wayne F. Miller, 19 September 1918 – 22 May 2013)

Naples, Italy, August 1944. Boy enjoying fruit. Steichen Photograph Unit: TR-13050. Photographed by Lieutenant Wayne Miller, August 1944. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. (2015/12/08).

Tom Clark liked a bit in Malaparte I too liked, again about Febo, here.