Guinness World Records confirmed on Friday that a 112-year-old Israeli Holocaust survivor who lives in Haifa, Israel, is the world’s oldest living man. Israel Kristal was born on September 15, 1903, to an orthodox Jewish family near the town of Zarnow, Poland. He lived through World War I and survived World War II in the Nazi death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau where his first wife and two children died.
According to Guinness, in a statement released on Friday, Kristal’s age as of March 11, 2016, was 112 years and 178 days old. There had been doubts that Guinness would recognize Kristal’s claim because he has no birth certificate to prove his birth date. Earlier in January he had expressed anxiety that Guinness would refuse to honor him as the world’s oldest living man.
— The Jerusalem Post (@Jerusalem_Post) March 11, 2016
But after investigations in Poland uncovered documents that showed he had lived in Lodz in 1918 at the age of 15, Guinness approved award of a certificate honoring Kristal as the world’s oldest living man, according to the Times Of Israel.
— Breaking News World (@BreakingNews_nl) March 11, 2016
— GuinnessWorldRecords (@GWR) March 11, 2016
Previously, the only evidence that Kristal had to back his claim that he was born in 1903 was his Polish marriage certificate issued in 1929 and papers showing that he had lived at the Lodz ghetto and later at the Auschwitz concentration camp during the Nazi occupation of Poland in World War II.
While awarding Kristal a certificate in his home in northern Haifa on Friday, Marco Frigatti, Head of Records for Guinness, asked him to share with the world the secret for long life, saying, “Mr Kristal’s achievement is remarkable – he can teach us all an important lesson about the value of life and how to stretch the limits of human longevity.”
Responding, 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.”
He added, “There have been smarter, stronger and better looking men then 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.”
But he later made an effort to give advice, stating that his motto was “Too much of anything is no good,” and adding, “not to smoke, drink or overdo it.”
When asked during a 2014 interview about the dietary secret for long life, Kristal said, “There wasn’t always food in the camps. I ate what I was given. I eat to live, and I don’t live to eat.”
Israel Kristal was born near the town of Zarnow in Poland on September 15, 1903. Three months after his birth on December 17, 1903, Orville and Wilbur Wright achieved the world’s sustained and controlled heavier-than-air human flight near Kitty Hawk in North Carolina.
He recalls seeing the Austrian emperor Kaiser Franz Joseph, riding in a car through Zarnow in Polond
He said, “I remember us children throwing sweets at him.”
He had moved to Lodz by 1918 where he found work at a confectionery factory. He lost his mother about the time he moved to Lodz. He married his first wife in 1929 at Lodz and had two children.
But his stable and peaceful family life in Lodz was interrupted by the Nazi invasion and occupation of Poland in 1939. The Nazis forced him and his family to move to the Lodz ghetto in 1940, and in 1944 the entire family was sent to Auschwitz concentration camp.
The world's oldest man survived Auschwitz. Israel Kristal has outlived Hitler by 70 years, 10 months and 11 days. pic.twitter.com/SRIaqqeWyt
— Rogers Cadenhead (@rcade) March 11, 2016
His wife and two children died at the camp, but he survived, weighing only about 37 kilograms (81 pounds) at the time that Russian troops liberated the camp in 1945.
He remarried after the war and moved to Haifa in Israel in 1950 with his wife and son. He opened a candy story in Haifa where he raised his family with two children, his son Hemi Kristal and daughter Shula Kuperstoch. He now has grandchildren.
Speaking about her father, Shula said, “He is a very positive man, very optimistic and with a good heart.”
After having survived some of the darkest moments in history, Kristal is very critical of the current state of world affairs, saying, “The world is worse [now] than in the past.”
Israel Kristal takes over the title of the world’s oldest man from Yasutaro Koide, who was born on March 13, 1903, and died on January 19, 2016, aged 112 years and 312 days.
The world’s oldest living person is 116-year-old American Susannah Mushatt Jones, born July 6, 1899.
[Image via Shutterstock]