Skip to main content
Israel Kristal. Photo: Shula Kopershtouk/AFP/Getty Images
Israel Kristal. Photo: Shula Kopershtouk/AFP/Getty Images

World's oldest living man is Holocaust survivor

Last Friday, 11 March, Guiness World Records confirmed that the world's oldest living man is Holocaust survivor Mr Israel Kristal of Haifa, Israel.

Kristal was born near Zarnow in Poland on 15 September 1903, making him 112 years and 181 days old as of today (14th March 2016). Having survived the First World War, he went to work in his family's confectionery business in Łódź in 1920, but following the Nazi invasion of Poland in 1939, he and his family were moved into the Łódź ghettoPart of a town or city in which members of a minority group live, usually as a result of political, social, legal, environmental or economic pressure. Historically it has applied specifically to a Jewish area.. He continued to sell sweets in the ghetto, but his two children died before the ghetto's liquidation in 1944. Kristal and his wife, Chaja Feige Frucht, were moved to AuschwitzThe concentration and extermination camp, located in Poland, that has become synonymous with the Holocaust., where Chaja was killed and Kristal became a slave labourer. Kristal was moved around the Nazi concentration camps until he was rescued by the Allies in May 1945, when he weighed just 37kg (5 stone, 11.5 lbs).

As the sole survivor of his family, he moved to Haifa in Israel in 1950 with his second wife (whom he married in 1947) and his son, and established another confectionery business. When asked about the secret of his long life, he responded '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.'

Although Kristal is the world's oldest living man (the former holder of the record was 112 year-old Yasutaro Koide of Japan, who died earlier this month), he is not the oldest living person in the world. That title goes to 115 year-old Susannah Mushatt Jones of Brooklyn, New York.

You can read more about Israel Kristal's record award at the Guiness World Records website.

Author Info

Debbie Kilroy

Having read history at the University of Birmingham as an undergraduate, where I won the Kenrick Prize, I worked as a trouble-shooter in the public sector until I took a career break in 2009. Thereafter, I was able to pursue my love of history and turn it into a career, founding Get History in 2014 with the aim of bringing accessible yet high quality history-telling and debate to a wide audience. Since then, I have completed a Masters in Historical Studies at the University of Oxford, from which I received a distinction and the Kellogg College Community Engagement and Impact Award. As well as continuing to write for and expand Get History, I am now a freelance writer and historian. I have worked with Histories of the Unexpected and Inside History, and my article for Parliaments, Estates and Representation won the ICHRPI Emile Lousse essay prize (2019).