The World’s Oldest Man Lived Through Two World Wars – Celebrates Bar Mitzvah 100 Years Late

Register of the family Kristal 1918 (left);
Register of the family Kristal 1918 (left); "Selection" of jews in concentration camps (right)

Israel Kristal, the world’s oldest man, is finally going to have his Bar Mitzvah 100 years after the original date.

Originally from Zarnow, Poland, he had just turned 13 when the First World War erupted, interrupting his coming of age milestone. Now aged 113, his children are providing the party he never had.

Kristal was imprisoned at the Auschwitz concentration camp that took the lives of his first wife and two children. Kristal weighed only 37kg according to records when he was freed by Allied forces in January 1945.

He immigrated to Haifa, Israel in 1950 with his second wife and their son, continuing to work at his confectionery business until retiring.

The secret to a long life us unknown to him, he said, believing that most things are decided from above, and we will never know why. There have been stronger, smarter and better-looking men than him who are no longer alive. All we can do is keep working as hard as possible and rebuild what’s lost.

In March he was declared the world’s oldest man by the Guinness Book of Records.

His daughter Schulamit said that more than 100 family members and friends are invited to her father’s party, The Independent reported.

At 13 years of age, the First World War started. His father was in the Russian army; his mother had passed away three years before. No one was celebrating at that time, she told DPA.

“We’ll dance and bless him, be happy with him but you can’t feel like you’re 13 at 113,” she said.

The world’s previous oldest man, Yasutaro Koide of Japan, passed away in January 2016 aged 112 years, 312 days, only a few months shy of his 113th birthday. Susannah Mushatt Jones, the oldest living person, and oldest living woman at 115 years and 249 days said eating bacon every day was her secret to longevity.

Ian Harvey

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