On Curzio Malaparte's 'La Pella' Holocaust
oil on linen canvas
50" x 50"
Text from the novel, The Skin, by Curzio Malaparte
English translation by David Moore
Houghton Mifflin, Boston and Cambridge, 1952
"I stifled a cry of horror. They were crucified men, nailed to the trunks of the trees, their arms outspread in the form of a cross, their feet bound together and fixed to the trunks with long nails or with pieces of steel wire that had been twisted around their ankles. The heads of some of them were lolling on their shoulders or chests; others, with upturned faces, were gazing at the rising moon.
Many were clad in the black caftan that Jews wear. Many were naked, and their flesh shone chastely in the cool, mild light of the moon.
Like the teeming egg which the corpses in the cemeteries of Tarquinia, in Etruris, hold up between two fingers as a symbol of fruitfulness and eternity, the moon was emerging from beneath the ground and poising itself in the sky. White and cold as an egg, it lit up the bearded faces, the black eye-sockets, the gaping mouths and twisted limbs of crucified men.
I rose on the stirrups and stretched out my hands toward one of them. With my fingers I tried to tear out the nails that pierced his feet. But the sound of angry voices arose on all sides, and the crucified men yelled: 'Don’t touch me, curse you!'"