Israel Kristal, a Jewish candy maker in Poland and later Israel, has been named the world’s oldest man by Guinness World Records.
Kristal, who is 112 years old, ran a candy shop alongside his father in Lodz, Poland, and was living there with his wife and two children when the country was invaded by Germany in 1939. Kristal (born Izrael Icek Krysztal) was moved into the Lodz ghetto following the occupation, where he and his father continued making candy.
Four years later, Kristal and his family were taken to Auschwitz, where his wife and children were killed. Kristal was the only member of his large extended family to survive the Holocaust, according to Guinness. At the time of his 1945 rescue by the Allied Forces, Kristal weighed 37 kilos, or approximately 81 pounds. In the hospital following the liberation of his camp, Kristal made candy for the Russian soldiers who saved his life.
In 1950, Kristal immigrated to Haifa, Israel, along with his second wife and their son. In Israel, Kristal resumed making sweets, first at a candy factory and then in his home. Until his retirement, Kristal’s specialties included boutique sweets like chocolate liquor bottles and chocolate-covered orange peels.
In 2012, when asked by Haaretz for the dietary secret to his long life, Kristal gave a sober and stoic answer. “In the camps there wasn’t always anything to eat,” said Kristal, then 109. “What they gave me, I ate. I eat to live; I don’t live to eat. I don’t need too much. Anything that’s too much is no good.”
Kristal lives in Haifa with a large family that includes nine grandchildren and a number of great-grandchildren.