World’s Oldest Man, Auschwitz Survivor Israel Kristal, Dead at 113

Born months before the Wright brothers' flight, Kristal survived WWII horrors.

August 13, 2017 12:10 pm
Israel Kristal
A picture taken on January 21, 2016, shows Yisrael Kristal sitting in his home in the Israeli city of Haifa. (SHULA KOPERSHTOUK/AFP/Getty Images)

A survivor of the Auschwitz concentration camp, who is widely believed to have been the world’s oldest man, died Friday at the age of 113.

Israel Kristal, recognized for his longevity by Guinness World Records last year, was born in Żarnów, Poland, in September 1903—three months before the Wright Brothers took their immortal flight.

The child of Orthodox Jewish parents, he used to run errands for an alcohol smuggler as a child, his grandson, Oren, told the Associated Press. But after he was orphaned shortly after the first world war, he moved to the city of Lodz to work in a family confectionery business. That’s where he was when the Nazis invaded Poland, and like many of the country’s Jewish population, he was sent to Auschwitz.

Kristal’s first wife and two children were among the six million Jews killed by Nazi forces in the Holocaust.

“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 told the AP.

After emerging from the war at an emaciated 81 pounds, he later married another Holocaust survivor and moved to Israel in 1950.
There he started a new confectionary business — and a new family, including two children, and a number of grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

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