World's oldest man dies aged 113

Israel Kristal, the world's oldest man, who lived through both the First and the Second World Wars and survived the Auschwitz concentration camp, has passed away just a month short of his 114th birthday.

Oren Kristal, who announced that his grandfather had died on Friday, said: "He managed to accomplish a lot. Every year he lived was like a few years for somebody else."

Last year Guinness World Records awarded Kristal a certificate recognising him as the world's oldest man.

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

"When he was a child during the First World War in Poland he was a helper for a booze smuggler. He used to run barefoot through the night for many kilometres with a heavy package on his back, aged about 12 years old, smuggling alcohol between the lines of the war," Oren Kristal 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."

Israel Kristal was orphaned shortly after the end of the First World War and moved to Lodz, Poland to work in his family's confectionary business.

During the subsequent Nazi occupation of Poland, Kristal was confined to the ghetto in Lodz and later sent to Auschwitz and other concentration camps. His first wife and two children were killed in the Holocaust.

Kristal survived the Second World War - the only member of his family to do so - but weighed less than six stone in 1945.

After the war ended Kristal married another Holocaust survivor and moved with her to Israel in 1950 where he built a new family and opened his own successful confectionary business.

"He was a very hard working man, (he had) a lot of energy, always running from one place to another doing something," his grandson, Oren Kristal, said.

He also revealed that his grandfather participated in the bar mitzvah of one of his grandsons just a few weeks ago.

Kristal himself only celebrated his bar mitzvah last year, 100 years later than usual. He missed his bar mitzvah - the Jewish coming-of-age ceremony celebrated when a boy turns 13 - because of the outbreak of the First World War.

Oren Kristal said his grandfather gave no explanation as to the secret behind his incredible longevity.

AP


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