Israeli Holocaust survivor confirmed as world’s oldest man at 112

Newly uncovered Polish documents help Yisrael Kristal of Haifa receive Guinness stamp of approval

Holocaust survivor Yisrael Kristal, confirmed in March 2016 as the oldest man in the world. (Courtesy of family)
Holocaust survivor Yisrael Kristal, confirmed in March 2016 as the oldest man in the world. (Courtesy of family)

Guinness World Records has confirmed a 112-year-old Israeli Holocaust survivor as the world’s oldest man.

Yisrael Kristal’s status was verified after documents confirming his age were uncovered in Poland in recent months, Haaretz reported Thursday night.

Kristal’s family say he was born in Poland on September 15, 1903, three months before the Wright brothers took the first airplane flight.

He lived in the country until the Nazi occupation during World War II, when he was eventually sent to the infamous Nazi death camp of Auschwitz.

Formerly, the family’s oldest document was from his wedding at age 25. But Guinness regulations demand documentation from the first 20 years of a person’s life.

A new document recently found in a Polish archives showed him to have been a resident of Lodz in 1918, at age 15.

Kristal was born in in the town of Zarnov. The family later moved to Lodz, where Kristal worked in his family’s confectionery factory.

When the Jewish quarter of the city became a ghetto under Nazi occupation, Kristal was eventually sent to Auschwitz.

His wife died but he survived, weighing just 37 kilos (81 pounds) at the end of the war, daughter Shula Kuperstoch said. “But he gained the strength and eventually traveled to Israel.”

He moved to the northern city of Haifa and opened a candy store, and he also remarried.

Kristal himself did not give interviews as his health is frail, but Kuperstoch says he is in good spirits.

“He is a very positive man, very optimistic and with a good heart,” she said.

In a 2014 interview with Israeli media, Kristal was asked what he ate to live so long.

“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,” he said.

He also recalled throwing candy at the emperor of Austria before World War I.

The previous oldest man, Yasutaro Koide of Japan, died in January at the age of 112.

The oldest living woman, at 116 years old, is Susannah Mushatt Jones, who was born on July 6, 1899. Jeanne Louise Calment, who died in 1997, was the oldest verified person ever — passing away in France at the age of 122 years and 164 days.

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