Auschwitz Survivor Is Officialy Recognized As World’s Oldest Man

The Guinness World Records has certified an Israeli Auschwitz survivor as the world’s oldest living man.

Yisrael Kristal was born in 1903 near Zarnow, Poland, then part of the Russian Empire. He lived through two world wars before he moved to Haifa in Israel.

He turned 112 years and 178 days old on March 11, according to the Guinness Book of Records.

The previous oldest man was Yasutaro Koide from Japan. He died in January at the age of 112 years and 312 days.

When he received the certificate from Guinness, Mr. Kristal said he didn’t know what the secret to a long life was. He believes that everything is “determined from above.”He says, “There have been smarter, stronger and better looking men than me who are no longer alive.”

Mr. Kristal is the son of a religious scholar. He was separated from his parents in World War I. At this time Poland was a battleground between German and Russian armies. He moved to Lodz and worked in the family’s confectionery business, for many years.

After Nazi Germany invaded Poland in 1939, he was forcibly moved to the Lodz ghetto with his family. By this time, he had married and had a family. Conditions in the ghetto were terrible and he and his family frequently starved. He or his family could not leave the Ghetto and if they did they could be shot on the spot. His two children died in the ghetto.  In 1944, he was sent to the Auschwitz Concentration Camp with his wife, Chaja Feige Frucht, according to the Jerusalem Post.

His wife was murdered in Auschwitz. Mr. Kristal performed slave labor there and in other camps. Somehow he endured the terrible conditions, the camp guards brutality and the starvation rations.The Allies rescued him in May of 1945. He weighed just 37 kg.

After the liberation he knew that there was nothing for him in Poland. The Jewish community had been practically exterminated. As the sole survivor of his family, he emigrated to Israel, in 1950, here he met his second wife and they started a family. He continued working in his confectionery business until he retired.

Shula Kuperstoch, his daughter, says that his beliefs were unaffected by the Holocaust.

“He is optimistic, wise, and he values what he has,” she told the Jerusalem Post.

An American woman is believed to be the oldest person alive today. Susannah Mushatt Jones is 115 years and 249 days.

The oldest person ever recorded is believed to be a French woman, Jeanne Calment. She died at age 122 years and 164 days.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE