A Jewish sweet maker who survived incarceration in the Auschwitz death camp has been officially named as the world’s oldest living man.
Yisrael Kristal, who was born in Poland in 1903 and lived through both World Wars, inherited the title from the previous world-record holder, Yasaturo Koide, who was not far short of his 113th birthday when he died in January.
In a life that began the year the first Ford Model A car rolled off the production lines, Mr Kristal endured hardship from boyhood onwards, being separated from his parents at the age of 11.
His father was killed shortly after being drafted into the Imperial Russian Army, which controlled Poland as part of the Tzarist empire.
An Orthodox Jew, he never had a bar mitzvah, the traditional Jewish ceremony when a boy turns 13, due to the chaos caused by WWI.
Having then trained as a confectioner, he moved into the ghetto in the Polish city of Lodz with his family in 1939, and after the Nazi invasion of Poland was sent to Auschwitz.
He lost his wife, Chaja Feige Frucht, and their two children in the Holocaust, and was rescued from the camp by the Allies in May 1945.
“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.”
The oldest living person is American-born Susannah Mushatt Jones, who is 115.