In 2000, there were 151 thousand people over the age of 100 on the Earth, according to UN data. The world record of longevity in the history of observations belongs to the Frenchwoman Jeanne Calman – she was 122.5 years old. In the first twenty of the oldest people living on Earth today – 18 women and 2 men, all of them from 113 to 116 years old. If we talk about countries, most of them – seven – live in Japan, six – in the United States, two – in Brazil. And one of them goes to Great Britain, Venezuela, Spain, Colombia and Germany. At the moment, the oldest living person in the world is considered Maria Branas Morera – the Spaniard, born in the United States, is 116 years old.
The oldest inhabitant of Germany today is Charlotte Kretschmann – she is 113 years old. She is philosophical about her age:
“I didn’t choose it. Nothing depends on me. Everyone has the chance to live to see tomorrow, and you don’t have to do anything about it.”
At the same time, she is proud of the fact that she is still in good physical shape and has retained her memory:
“I’m not bedridden… And my head is absolutely fine, 150 percent,” she said with a smile in an interview with the German weekly Der SPIEGEL.
113-year-old Charlotte Kretschmann has been living in a nursing home in Kirchheim-unter-Teck in Baden-Württemberg for the past few years. The woman has buried her husband and daughter, so she suffers especially.
“The Lord God made him bad. At the end of life, a person should be generally good, and it gets worse and worse,” Charlotte complains.
Sometimes she dreams of her relatives, and then wakes up in tears and sadness.
For several years, the woman managed her household chores alone, but after a brain hemorrhage she decided to move into a nursing home where she could receive professional support and medical care if needed.
Charlotte Kretschmann likes to look at paintings and wall calendars with different themes.
“I need everything around me to be beautiful and a little colorful,” Charlotte shares her preferences.
After her birthday in December, her room was decorated with three balloons with the numbers 1, 1, 3 for a long time. And always pictures of her grandchildren. On the walls hang several diaries – one with recipes, another with an idyllic view of the Dolomite Alps. The old lady loves to look at them again and again. But Charlotte Kretschmann has experienced much more in her life than can fit in a diary or a nearby photo album.
“Recently, a historian asked me to talk about life. Who can tell me more than my own experience…?”
Born December 3, 1909, in Breslau, then part of the German Empire, Charlotte Kretschmann lived through two world wars and an economic crisis. She regretted the division of Germany and then watched its reunification, saw new money come and go.
“I outlived everyone: both Queen Elizabeth and Pope Benedict,” he said…..
And not even the coronavirus turned her life upside down. Last summer, Charlotte fell ill and was quarantined:
“I just didn’t see anybody, I didn’t hear anybody, I didn’t talk to anybody. I sat by the window for 14 days and looked at every leaf. I don’t want to go through that again.”
“I often don’t get my 113 years. My dentist can’t believe his eyes, he says I’m a miracle,” says Charlotte.
How did she manage to keep her spirits upbeat?
“Thanks to sport and exercise, even in winter. And, of course, thanks to my happy childhood,” the long-haired woman shares.
She remembers that she had everything she wanted, her parents gave her everything she needed: her mother sewed her beautiful dresses according to the latest fashion, she had excellent food and care, and caring teachers worked with her.
Charlotte Kretschmann’s grandson helps her keep an Instagram account.
Today, the 113-year-old woman considers it especially important to take care of her appearance. Once every two weeks, she says, she goes to the salon and gets a manicure.
“I paint my nails red and like to wear trendy tops,” she admits.
At the moment, the German longtime resident is only concerned about the wheelchair she has to move around in after falling and injuring her knees. But her goal is to walk again with the help of a walker, so she regularly trains with a physiotherapist.
“You should have seen me when I was young, how I ran and swam,” Charlotte brags.
While involved in athletics, she met her husband Werner, he was one of the best runners. It was love at first sight. They often danced together. They had a daughter. But World War II destroyed their happiness, they had to part. Werner was recruited into the Wehrmacht – first in France, and then transferred to the Eastern Front. Her husband was taken prisoner by the Soviets. Charlotte and her young daughter fled to the West. She remembers being carried in gondola cars, how hard and scary it was for her.
“My husband fought in Russia. We were very lucky that after his return from captivity we were able to meet through the Red Cross and start a new life in Stuttgart.”
Every evening in the nursing home, Charlotte watches television:
“I am aware of everything that is going on.”
Currently, Charlotte Kretschmann’s daily routine usually consists of sessions with a physiotherapist and meetings with her relatives and grandchildren. She invites the rest of the world to take part in her life – thanks to her Instagram account. She currently has almost 9,000 followers. She regularly shares snapshots from her life with them, whether it’s shopping, Christmas parties or just going for walks.
“Even my niece in America can see me,” she rejoices.
She is helped by her 45-year-old grandson Peter Baur. He says his grandmother is mentally much younger than the age on her ID card. Charlotte Kretschmann herself does not think about death:
“It’s useless – in the end it will just happen, and nothing depends on me. But I still have time.”