On Friday, Guinness World Records announced that Auschwitz survivor Israel Kristal, at the current age of 112 years and 179 days, is the oldest known man in the world. Though he now lives in Haifa, Israel, Kristal was born in Poland on September 15, 1903. After surviving the First World War, Kristal eventually went to work in a family confectionary business in the city of Łódź. When Germany invaded Poland to start World War II, he and his family were forced into the city’s Jewish ghetto, and four years after that, they were sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp, where his wife and two children were killed. Kristal was later transferred to two other Nazi labor camps, and when he was rescued by allied forces in 1945, he weighed only 81 pounds and was the sole survivor of his entire family.
After the war, Kristal remarried and had a son before eventually relocating to Israel in 1950, where he got back into the confectionery business and continued to grow his family.
After receiving a certificate from Guinness World Records, Kristal commented:
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. 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.
Haaretz interviewed Kristal back in January as well:
[Before Japan’s Yasutaro Koide, the previous oldest man in the world, died, he] said that his secret for longevity was “Not to work too hard, and to be happy.” Kristal isn’t offering a recipe for long life. “It’s no great bargain. Everyone has their own good fortune. It’s from heaven. There are no secrets,” he told Haaretz in 2012. Asked if perhaps he had reached an advanced age due to a special diet, he said, “In the camps there wasn’t always anything to eat. What they gave me, I ate. I eat to live; I don’t live to eat. I don’t need too much. Anything that’s too much is no good.”