Israel Kristal, a 112-year-old Israeli Holocaust survivor, was confirmed to be the world’s oldest man by the Guinness World Records on Friday.
As of March 11, Kristal was 112 years and 178 days old, making him officially the oldest man in the world.
“I don’t know the secret for long life,” Kristal, who currently lives in Haifa, Israel, told Guinness when he was awarded the certificate on Friday. “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 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 Sept. 15, 1903, to a Jewish-Orthodox family in what was then Russian-occupied Poland. At age 3, Israel started going to school at a Heder school and began to speak Hebrew. At age 4, he learned the Bible and then at age 6, he learned Mishna. Five years later, at the young age of 11 years old, Israel was separated from his parents around the time of the first World War.
In 1920, Israel headed to Łódź in Poland to work in the family confectionery business. Not long after, Israel and his wife, Chaja Feige, along with their two kids were forced by the Germans into a Jewish ghetto when World War II erupted in 1939. Eventually, Israel and his family were moved to the Jewish concentration camp Auschwitz where he lost his wife and children. Despite being a slave laborer at Auschwitz and other camps, Kristal survived his time at the camps, but just barely. When the allies liberated the camp in May 1945, Kristal weighed only 82 pounds.
According to History Channel’s website, estimates show that between “1.1 million to 1.5 million people, the vast majority of them Jews, died at Auschwitz during its years of operation. An estimated 70,000 to 80,000 Poles perished at the camp, along with 19,000 to 20,000 Gypsies and smaller numbers of Soviet prisoners of war and other individuals.”
Kristal was the only survivor of his family, and later emigrated in 1950 to the city of Haifa in Israel with his second wife and their son. Israel made a living with his successful confectionery business, and continued to grow his family. Israel’s daughter, Shula Kuperstoch, said the Holocaust did not hinder her father’s religious beliefs.
“He is optimistic, wise, and he values what he has,” she said, according to the BBC.
“This record category continues to be one of particular human interest and we have been able to verify that as the new Oldest living man,” Marco Frigatti, Head of Records for GWR, said. “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.”
The previous oldest man, Yasutaro Koide of Japan, died in January 2016 at the age of 112 years, 312 days. The current oldest living person in the world is Susannah Mushatt Jones of Brooklyn, New York. Jones is 115 years and 249 days old. The oldest person to ever live was Jeanne Calment of France, who lived to be 122 years and 164 days old.
[Photo by Ken Wolter / Shutterstock.com]