Israel Kristal, a 112-year-old confectioner who survived two world wars, was recognized as the oldest man in the world. The Guinness World Record Association didn’t declare his title legitimate until Tuesday, mostly due to a lack of documentation. His birth certificate was lost during WWII but Kristal’s Auschwitz file proved that he is, indeed, 112 years and 178 days old.
Throughout his life, Israel witnessed almost all the technological breakthroughs that shaped today’s world – from the first functional aircraft, to the moon landing, to the Mars missions.
He was born in a Polish village near the town Zarnow, on September 11, 1903. Kristal was speaking Hebrew at three and, by the age of six, started learning the Bible. At 11, World War I separated him from his parents. And, since he got a job at a pastry shop one year later, Israel can say he has been a confectioner for, literally, over a hundred years. So, we’re not saying sweets are the key to a long life, but you may want to reconsider that low-carb diet after all.
After the Nazis invaded Poland in 1939, Kristal was moved to a ghetto for almost two years. After that, he was shipped off to Auschwitz with his wife and two children. Unfortunately, his family didn’t survive the concentration camp. And, though Israel was among the few who were rescued in 1945, no one could have predicted that he would live for another 65 years (and counting.) Records show that he weight only 81 pounds and suffered from multiple severe disorders at the end of WWII.
By 1950, Kristal had fully recovered and decided to move to Haifa, Israel. He remarried and now has a over 30 close relatives – children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
As for his secret, Israel is as puzzled as anyone. Being a true man of god, he told the Guinness Book representatives that “everything is determined from above and we shall never know the reasons why.”
Considering the sheer amount of heart-wrenching loss the sweets-maker overcame, his attitude is an inspiration to every single one of us.
“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…”