August 11, 2017
Holocaust survivor Yisrael Kristal, recognized by the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s oldest living man and one of the 10 longest-lived men ever, dies in Haifa one month before his 114th birthday.
Kristal was born in Maleniec, Poland, in 1903 and was expected to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a Torah scholar. But his mother died in 1910, and his father was killed fighting for the German army in World War I. At age 17, Kristal moved to Lodz, Poland, where he married, had two daughters and became an expert candy maker. He secretly manufactured candy in the Lodz ghetto under Nazi control during World War II.
Kristal’s daughters died in the ghetto, and he and his wife were sent to Auschwitz when the ghetto was liquidated in 1944. His wife was killed at the camp, but Kristal survived doing forced labor until the Soviet army liberated Auschwitz in January 1945. He thanked the Soviet soldiers by making them candy.
Kristal resumed his life as an artisan candy maker in Lodz after the war, remarried in 1947, and had a son and a daughter. The family immigrated to Israel in 1950 and settled in Haifa, where Kristal worked in the Palata candy factory before again opening his own candy business. He celebrated becoming a bar mitzvah 100 years late in 2016 at age 113, six months after being notified of his status as the world’s oldest man. He told Haaretz that he had no secrets for longevity but lived so long thanks to luck.