World’s old­est man, a Holo­caust sur­vivor, dies at 113

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD -

JERUSALEM — The world’s old­est man, Is­rael Kristal, who lived through both World Wars and sur­vived the Auschwitz con­cen­tra­tion camp, has passed away just a month short of his 114th birth­day, his fam­ily said on Satur­day.

Oren Kristal, a grand­son, said he died on Fri­day. “He man­aged to ac­com­plish a lot. Every year he lived was like a few years for some­body else,” Oren said.

Last year, Guin­ness World Records awarded Kristal a cer­tifi­cate as the world’s old­est man at his home in Haifa, Is­rael.

Kristal was born to an Ortho­dox Jewish fam­ily near the town of Zarnow in Poland in 1903.

“When he was a child dur­ing World War I in Poland he was a helper for a booze smug­gler, he used to run bare­foot in the snow through the night many kilo­me­ters with a heavy pack­age on his back at about 12 years old, smug­gling al­co­hol be­tween the lines of the war,” Oren, his grand­son said.

“He used to walk very fast un­til he was very old, faster than me, and he used to tell me that when he was my age if you didn’t walk fast enough your feet would stick to the frozen ground,” Oren re­called grand­fa­ther telling him.

Kristal was or­phaned shortly af­ter World War I and moved to Lodz to work in the fam­ily con­fec­tionary busi­ness in 1920.

Dur­ing the Nazi oc­cu­pa­tion of Poland Kristal was con­fined to the ghetto there and later sent to Auschwitz and other con­cen­tra­tion camps. His first wife and two chil­dren were killed in the Holo­caust. Six mil­lion Jews were sys­tem­at­i­cally mur­dered by Ger­man Nazis and their col­lab­o­ra­tors dur­ing World War II.

“He used to tell us when­ever we were mourn­ing some­one that we should con­sider that they are be­ing buried in the land of Is­rael, most of the peo­ple he knew did not get to be buried in a grave when they died,” Oren said.

Kristal sur­vived World War II weigh­ing only 37 kilo­grams — the only sur­vivor of his large fam­ily.

He later mar­ried an­other Holo­caust sur­vivor and moved with her to Is­rael in 1950 where he built a new fam­ily and a suc­cess­ful con­fec­tionary busi­ness.

“He was a very hard work­ing man, a lot of en­ergy al­ways run­ning from one place to an­other do­ing some­thing,” Oren, his grand­son said.

He said his grand­fa­ther par­tic­i­pated in one of his great­grand­son’s bar mitz­vah just a few weeks ago.

An ob­ser­vant Jew, Kristal him­self only cel­e­brated his bar mitz­vah last year, a hun­dred years later than usual. He missed his bar mitz­vah — the Jewish com­ing-of-age cer­e­mony cel­e­brated when a boy turns 13 — be­cause of World War I.

Oren said his grand­fa­ther gave no ex­pla­na­tion to the se­cret for his in­cred­i­ble longevity.

He is sur­vived by two chil­dren and nu­mer­ous grand­chil­dren and great­grand­chil­dren, me­dia re­ported.

Is­rael Kristal

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