Dina Cerioli (1925 - 2023)

the last witness of the "secret house" of Magenta, a refugee for jews during the Holocaust

Dina Cerioli was a brave citizen of Magenta, a small municipality located in the province of Milan, who distinguished herself during World War II by rescuing the Molho family.

Born in Crema in 1925, Dina Cerioli started to work at a very young age - along with her father and her sister in law - at a small metal parts factory in Magenta, property of the Molho's, a jewish family who used to live in Milan at that time.

in December 1942 the Molho family - who had previously been expropriated of their factory because of the approval of the Racial Laws - decided to move from Milan to Magenta (where they owned a house) because of the several allied bombings on Milan. They henceforth decided to live in their safer residence of Magenta.

By the way, things got worse after the emanation - that took place on September 14th 1943 - of the Manifest of Verona, a Fascist law that ordered the starting of jewish roundups and deportation in the Northern Italy.

The Molhos then decided - hence following the advice previously given by the employees of their former factory - to move temporarily to a farmhouse located nearby Magenta and considered by them as a safe refugee; unfortunately, their stay at the farmhouse was very short, because the owner of the house decided, after a short period of time, to evict the Molhos because of his fear of reprisals. The jewish family was then put in a great danger.

Dina Cerioli and her family so decided - in spite of their awareness of the risks they were going to take - to hide the Molhos. 

With that aim, Dina Cerioli - helped by her father, her sister in law and other factory’s employees - built a refugee, later known as “the secret house”, inside a warehouse located at the first floor of the same small metal parts factory that used to be owned by the Molhos.

The refugee was then furnished with several beds, a table, a stove, a radio and a signal alarm, thanks to which the hosts hid in the refugee could have been alerted by Dina Cerioli and her family if the Fascist police would have searched for them.

Additionally, the Molhos received, during their whole period of clandestinity, food supplies, information and money by Dina Cerioli and her sister in law Caterina Vaiani, who used to sell on the underground market the goods produced at the factory with the aim of financially supporting the Molho family which was hid in the refugee.

Thanks to the efforts made by Dina and her family, the Molhos could safely hid until the Northern Italy Liberation, thus escaping from the barbarity of the Holocaust.

Dina Cerioli - who was the last witness of the brave good work put in action at the “secret house” of Magenta -died on February 2023, at the age of 97 years old.

The effort made by Dina - who had courageously placed the rescue of human lives before her safety and personal security - contributed to the surviving of the Molhos family, who had escaped from the Jewish genocide thanks to the actions put in place by Dina, along with her family.

Thanks to that reason, Dina Cerioli was honored - in December 1997 - with the title of Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem. She accomplished that important award alongside her sister in law Caterina Vaiani, her father Angelo, and other two employees of the Magenta’s factory (named Antonio Garbini and Battista Magna), who had participated - along with the young lady - in the brave rescue of the Molhos.

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There are many stories about people who saved the Jews from the Nazi atrocities in WWII, many of which are still little known or even unknown.

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