Marisa Diena
Marisa Diena activity map
Partisan activity marked in yellow as indicated by Marisa Diena
Partisan spy Marisa Diena was born in Turin, Italy, on September 29, 1916. Eight years old when Benito Mussolini became dictator of Italy, Marisa was taught to love Fascism. However, Italy passed its first Racial Laws in 1938, imitating the Nazi Racial Purity laws, banning Jews from working in the public sector or attending public school. In 1940, Italy declared war on Britain and France, and by 1942, Turin was being bombed on an almost daily basis. By 1943, Italy was in a state of virtual civil war. In July of that year, Mussolini was deposed following the allied invasion of Sicily. Germany responded by seizing control of Northern and Central Italy and reinstating Mussolini as the head of a new puppet regime.
Marisa Diena    Photo 1
Video still from interview, July 2004
After the Nazis occupied Turin, Marisa fled into the mountains around Torre Pellice to join the partisans. The role of women in the Italian partisans was unique: since most of the male partisans were army deserters, only women were able to move during the day without arousing suspicion. During the day, Marisa would ride her bicycle around the countryside, collecting information from local informers. Each night she would report back to her commander.

Marisa became Vice-Commander of Information Services for her unit, enlisting and training other young women to become spies and couriers.
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