Holocaust survivor, world's oldest man, dies at 113

Holocaust survivor Israel Kristal, who last year was recognised by Guinness World Records as the world's oldest living man, has died at age 113.
Mr Yisrael Kristal at his home in the Israeli city of Haifa in January 2015. He died a month before his 114th birthday.
Mr Yisrael Kristal at his home in the Israeli city of Haifa in January 2015. He died a month before his 114th birthday.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

JERUSALEM • Israeli Holocaust survivor Yisrael Kristal, certified last year by Guinness World Records as the world's oldest man, has died at age 113, Israeli media reported.

"Yisrael Kristal... died on Friday, a month before his 114th birthday," Haaretz daily reported in its online edition.

News site Ynet said he was survived by two children, nine grandchildren and 32 great-grandchildren. Since he was an observant Jew, his family could not be reached on Friday evening, the onset of the Jewish sabbath.

The World Jewish Congress noted his passing in a Twitter statement. "Holocaust survivor Yisrael Kristal was the oldest man in the world. Yisrael passed away today. May his memory be a blessing."

Mr Kristal, originally from Zarnow in what is now Poland, was born on Sept 15, 1903 - three months before the Wright brothers launched the world's first successful powered airplane flight.

After World War I, Mr Kristal moved to Lodz, where he worked in the family's confectionery factory, got 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 Mr 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 Mr Kristal survived, weighing just 37kg 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, Mr Kristal offered no explanation for his longevity.

"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," he said.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 13, 2017, with the headline 'Holocaust survivor, world's oldest man, dies at 113'. Print Edition | Subscribe