World’s oldest man, Auschwitz survivor Yisrael Kristal, dies aged 113



The world’s oldest man, Yisrael Kristal – a Holocaust survivor, has died at the age of 113.

Mr Kristal, who was certified last year by Guinness World Records as the world’s oldest man, died today just one month before he was due to turn 114.

The 113-year-old, who lived in Haifa, Israel, was the only member of his immediate family to survive the Holocaust.

Israeli media Haaretz Daily announced his death this afternoon.

Mr Kristal is survived by two children, 9 grandchildren and 32 great-grandchildren.

The World Jewish Congress noted his passing in a brief Twitter statement.

It said: ‘Holocaust survivor Yisrael Kristal was the oldest man in the world. Yisrael passed away today.

‘May his memory be a blessing.’

Kristal, originally from Zarnow in what is now Poland, was born on September 15, 1903 – three months before the Wright brothers’ first successful powered airplane flight.

In September last year he celebrated his Bar Mitzvah after a century-long delay.

Usually marked at 13 for boys and 12 or 13 for girls – a Bat Mitzvah in that case – it marks the transition into someone responsible for his or her actions.

Kristal was unable to celebrate his Bar Mitzvah in 1916 because his mother had died three months earlier and his father was a soldier in the Russian army at the time of World War I.

His daughter Shula Koperstoch said last year: ‘My father is religious and has prayed every morning for 100 years, but he has never had his Bar Mitzvah.’

After World War I, Kristal moved to Lodz where he worked in the family confectionary factory, married and had two children.

But his life was disrupted when the Jewish quarter of the city became a ghetto under Nazi occupation during World War II and Kristal was sent to the infamous Nazi death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau.

Around 1.1 million people, most of them European Jews, perished in the camp between 1940 and 1945 before it was liberated by Soviet forces.

His wife and two children died but Kristal survived, weighing just five and a half stone at the end of the war.

He then moved to Israel, where he opened a sweet shop.

Guinness World Records’ website said that on receiving his certificate at his home in the northern Israeli city of Haifa last year Kristal offered no explanation for his longevity.

He 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.’

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