"Malaparte" himself was an enigma. He was born Kurt Ench Suckert in 1898 in Prato, Italy, of Austrian, Russian and Italian descent. He attended the Collegio Cicognini and the University of Rome. He joined the Fascists at an early age and soon became the darling of the Fascist Propaganda Ministry where he wrote glowing volumes and even a work of poetry in praise of Mussolini. He served as a journalist for Corriere della Sera and travelled to Ethiopia in 1939. What happened after that depends upon which "Malaparte" is read. The world-travelling statesman fictionalized in his novels spent the war years in almost constant meetings with the likes of Mussolini, Count Ciano, Ante Pavelic, and the rich and powerful of Europe. Interestingly, Pavelic's name was misspelled Pavelic in all of his writings.
Later, Malaparte claimed to have been one of "three Italian officers who organized the Italian Army of Liberation which fought for the Allies." After the fall of Mussolini he began writing under the name Gianni Strozzi for the communist daily L'Unita. That year he applied for, but was refused, Communist Party membership. Still later, he went to work for the Allied Fifth Army Headquarters as a minor liaison officer.
Just as he had served the Fascists and the communists, Malaparte sought to ingratiate himself with his new masters. "The American Army is the kindest army in the world....I like Americans...and I proved it a hundred times during the war...their souls are pure, much purer than ours," Malaparte gushed.
In November of 1952 a far different Malaparte wrote that, in fact, he had fallen out with Mussolini in 1934. Not only did he never meet most of the great leaders he wrote about, he admitted: "In 1938 I still remained under police control and was put in prison as a preventative measure every time a Nazi chief visited Rome...and from 1933 until the liberation, I was deprived of a passport..." Once called "Fascism's Strongest Pen," Malaparte angered Hitler with a book written in 1931 about the techniques of the coup d' etat. He was jailed by Mussolini from 1933 to 1938 and kept on a very short leash for the remainder of the Fascist era. The Italian Defense Ministry did confirm that he once served as a liaison officer to the Allies, but flatly denied that he had anything to do with organizing Italy's Army of Liberation.
A prolific author of short stories and fictionalized accounts of Fascist victories, Suckert-Malaparte- Strozzi did interview Ante Pavelic during the War. The interview recounted in Kaputt, in Pavelic's office, was recorded on film. There is no basket to be seen or any conversation regarding a basket. After the War, Malaparte continued to write, as well as direct and produce movies, and was active in the Communist Party. In the Spring of 1957, the Party sent him on a comradely visit to China. Shortly after his return, he died on July 19, 1957.
An enigma to the end, the viciously anti-Catholic Malaparte renounced communism and converted to Catholicism on his death bed. Later, Malaparte's friend and fellow journalist Victor Alexandrov let it be known that Malaparte had admitted the story of the basket of human eyeballs was fiction. Thus Curzio Malaparte and his unpleasant fiction were relegated to the dust bin of literary story in all of the world except Belgrade.