Captured by the Nazis, he lives the American dream now!
Emilio Guido is a communications and media studies student at the Northeastern University and has recently released a documentary, called Laugh Now: A Perspective on Life, Liberty, & the Holocaust. Here, he has chronicled the life story of Theofanis Orfanos, who was captured at the age of 15 by the Nazis and survived 18 months of captivity. The documentary has Orfanos’ vivid account with archival footage of World War II and various reenactment scenes shot by Guido. After spending the past nine months interviewing, filming, and producing the documentary, Guido believes that Orfanos’ upbeat spirit and his laughter is what makes him stand out.
While German Nazis were relocating prisoners in the Geislingen an der Steigeforced-labour camp, Orfanos hid in an outhouse. He waited for the chatter of SS officers outside to subside. When it did, he ran until he reached the Neckar River in southern Germany. He was stopped by two French police officers, who took him to a nearby police station and helped him with shelter and food. Two months after, he returned to Greece, where his family couldn’t recognise him initially. More than a decade later, he left for the United States in search of new opportunities. He shined shoes for a stint in New York City before moving to Cambridge, Massachusetts. He bought a shoe repair shop in downtown Boston, where he worked for several years, in addition to picking up several other odd jobs around the city. Eventually, he moved his entire family from Greece to the U.S. Now at the age of 92, Orfanos spends most of his retired life at his Arlington home.
“It’s important to tell these stories so that we can understand the world before us and remember that humans have overcome such strife. Theo’s story is just that. However, this is not just a reminder of the horrors of the Holocaust, but also a source of inspiration”, Guido says.
Shahjadi Jemim Rahman