The oldest living man in the world is a survivor of Auschwitz, the biggest death camp in the history of mankind, and he has lived in Haifa, Israel since 1950. Israel Kristal, 112.5, Israeli Holocaust survivor, was officially announced on Friday by Guinness World Records as the oldest known man living.
By Ron Paz, Israel Government Press Office
Israel Kristal was born in Poland (then part of the Russian Empire) on September 15, 1903, to a religious Jewish family, three months before the Wright brothers made their first successful flight. He has been an orphan for 106 years, since his mother died in 1910.
When World War I broke out in 1914, Kristal saw with his own eyes one of Europe’s greatest 19th century leaders, Austro-Hungarian Emperor Franz Joseph, when he rode through his town in a car. Kristal recalled throwing sweets at him with other children as he passed. During the war his father was drafted to the Russian Army and died in 1919.
Kristal’s family tragedies continued in WWII, when he lost his two children to hunger and disease in Lodz ghetto. He and his wife were among the last to be transported from the ghetto in May 1944 to the Auschwitz death camp due to his extraordinary skill at making candies, which were favorites with the Nazis. His wife was murdered in Auschwitz, along with 1.1 million Jews and 100,000 others, while the 41 years old Israel Kristal survived by doing forced labor. He was released in January 1945, when Auschwitz was liberated by the Red Army. He weighed only 37kg.
Kristal returned to Lodz and married again in 1947. In 1950 he immigrated to Israel with his wife and their infant son, Haim, and settled in Haifa, where he has lived ever since. The couple had a daughter, Shula, and Kristal, doing what he knew, established a candy factory in the city called Kristal’s Sweets. He has been religious throughout his life.
Reacting to the news, Kristal said: "I don’t know the secret for long life. I believe that everything is determined from above and we shall never know the reasons why. There have been smarter, stronger and better-looking men then me who are no longer alive."
"The Holocaust did not affect his beliefs," his daughter, Shula Kuperstoch, told The Jerusalem Post. "He believes he was saved because that’s what God wanted. He is not an angry person; he is not someone who seeks an accounting. He believes everything has a reason in the world. My father is someone who is always happy. He is optimistic, wise, and he values what he has," Kristal’s daughter said, "His attitude to life is: Everything in moderation".
While being ranked 23rd today, Kristal is expected to enter on April 7th to the top-20 longest living men of all times, and the only one of them remaining. Top of list is the Japanese Jiroemon Kimura, who died in 2013 at age 116. The longest documented life ever lived by an individual was the French woman Jeanne Calment, who died in 1997 at the age of 122.5 – the only verified person to cross the 120 years of age mark, and exactly 10 years older than Israel Kristal.
Susannah Mushatt Jones from USA, born on 6 July 1899, is the oldest living person on earth. Jones, together with the Italian Emma Morano, are the only two people who were born in the 19th century and who are still alive today. Israel Kristal is currently 32nd in the list of oldest living people; all of the first 31 are women.