Documents found in Poland over the weekend lend credence to the claim that Yisrael Kristal, an Auschwitz survivor living in Haifa, is the oldest man in the world to have documented evidence of his birth date.
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Last Thursday it was revealed in Haaretz that, following the death in Japan of a man nearing his 113th birthday, 112 year-old Kristal is a candidate for being the oldest man in the world, as listed in the Guinness Book of Records.
The story was widely reported around the world and quoted in many languages. Subsequently, last weekend the JRI (Jewish Records Index) took on the task of locating archived documents that are required in order to substantiate a claim and recognize it as a record. This organization specializes in finding documentation relating to Polish Jews and has a data base of more than 5 million records of births, marriages and deaths among Polish Jewry. It works in collaboration with the Museum of the History of Polish Jews, located in Warsaw.
The director of the organization, Stanley Diamond, who lives in Montreal, Canada, sent Haaretz various documents that the organization located in Polish archives, including the death certificate of Kristal’s mother from 1910 and his marriage certificate from 1928. In parallel, other genealogists from around the world sent Haaretz various documents associated with his family, in an attempt to get him recognized as the record holder.
The Guinness Book of Records commented to Haaretz that “following the death last week of Yasutaro Koide at the age of 112, we are looking into information regarding several people, to see who is currently the oldest man alive. When we complete the investigation we’ll announce the name of the man holding the record in this category.”
Kristal was photographed last Thursday, smiling at his picture shown on the front page of Haaretz, which also included his response: “Big deal!”