Holocaust survivor Israel Kristal named world’s oldest living man

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Israel Kristal, who lived through both World Wars and survived slave labor at Nazi concentration camps, has been named the world’s oldest living man at the age of 112, according to Guinness World Records.

Kristal, who lives in the city of Haifa in northern Israel, was awarded his Guinness World Records certificate after research and verification by the Gerontology Research Group (GRG) and Jewish Records Indexing – Poland verified his age.

“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,” Kristal told Guinness World Records. “There have been smarter, stronger and better looking men than me who are no longer alive. All that is left for us to do is to keep on working as hard as we can and rebuild what is lost.”

Kristal was born on September 15, 1903, in the Russian Empire near the town of Zarnow, which is today part of Poland. He was born to a Jewish Orthodox family with parents Moszek-Dawid and Brucha Krystztal.

At age 11, separated from his parents, Kristal survived World War I and moved to the city of Łódź in what was by then the Second Polish Republic to work in the family confectionery business. When the Nazis invaded Poland and occupied Łódź in 1939, Kristal and his family were forced to move into the Łódź Ghetto.

After spending four years in the ghetto for Polish Jews, Kristal was sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp in southern Poland, where he lost his wife Chaja Feige Frucht and their two children in the Holocaust. Kristal himself survived, performing slave labor at Auschwitz and other camps.

Kristal was near death and the sole survivor of his large family when he was rescued by the Allies in May 1945, when he weighed only 37 kilos (81 pounds).

Kristal emigrated to the Israeli city of Haifa in 1950 along with his second wife and their son, and Kristal went on to grow both his family and his successful confectionery business until he retired. Today he remains in Haifa where he is surrounded by his family.

Among the records that were used to verify his old age are two official documents located by Jewish Records Indexing – Poland. A death certificate showed the death of Kristal’s mother in 1910 and a marriage certificate proved Kristal’s marriage to his first wife in 1928.

Separate from the male title, 116-year-old Susannah Mushatt Jones of the United States is currently recognized as the world’s oldest living woman, and therefore also the world’s oldest living person.

The oldest undisputed person to have ever lived in the world was Jeanne Calment who died in France in 1997 at the age of 122 years and 164 days. Other people have claimed to be older than Calment, but those claims have never been verified with official documentation and other supporting evidence.

Jiroemon Kimura, who died in Japan in June 2013 at the age of 116 years and 54 days, was the world’s oldest verified male in recorded history, according to Guinness World Records.

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