An Israeli Holocaust survivor has been named as the new oldest living man, at the age of 112 and 178 days.
Israel Kristal, an Auschwitz survivor who now lives in Haifa, became the record holder following the death of Yasutaro Koide of Japan, who died in January, aged 112 and 312 days.
From the age of three, he began to learn Hebrew, and has been observant his entire life. Born in 1903 in the Polish town of Zarnow, Kristal has lived through two world wars and Auschwitz.
Following the invasion of Poland by the Nazis in 1939, Kristal moved to the Łódź ghetto with his family. He was sent to Auschwitz four years later, where he lost his first wife Chaja and two children.
Surviving by doing back-breaking labour, he was rescued by the Allies in May 1945, weighing only 37 kilos.
In 1950, he and his new wife moved to Israel, where his family and confectionary business grew.
Upon being confirmed as the world’s oldest living man and receiving his Guinness World Records certificate, Kristal 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.
He continued: “There have been smarter, stronger and better looking men then me who are no longer alive. All that is left for us to do is to keep on working as hard as we can and rebuild what is lost.”
Marco Frigatti, head of records for GWR handed Kristal his award at his home in Haifa on Friday.
He said: “Mr Kristal’s achievement is remarkable – he can teach us all an important lesson about the value of life and how to stretch the limits of human longevity.”
Karen Pollock, chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust said: “What better way to defy Hitler and the Nazis than to not only survive the Holocaust but also to go on to be the world’s oldest man living in Israel – we wish Israel Kristal many more years of health and happiness.”
The oldest living person is Susannah Mushatt Jones (USA, born on 6 July 1899), who is 115 years and 249 days, also making her the oldest living woman.
The oldest person ever to have lived is also female, Jeanne Calment (France), who lived to 122 years and 164 days.