Glenn Beck, Raoul Wallenberg, and the Mysterious Russian Soldier: Embellishing an Already Great Story

Glenn Beck used a lot of artifacts to tell his stories during his July 5, 2015 talk at Fellowship Church in the Fort Worth are. Previously, I have commented on his false account of the Aitken Bible story and his theological statement  that America is a covenant nation. Today, I want to comment on his story about Raoul Wallenberg. First, listen to what Glenn Beck said about Wallenberg.

This is a document from Raoul Wallenberg. Raoul Wallenberg is one of my heroes. He was a Swedish emissary at the embassy during the 2nd World War and he tried to stand up for the Jews.  This is a passport.
His King told him, ‘don’t do this, we have enough trouble, please don’t do this, we have enough trouble.’ But he was in Budapest and he saw what was happening to the Jews and he stood up.
And he would go to the train cars where they had taken all the Jews and he would take these, a handful of them and stuff them between the slats of the train while standing on top of the train and then he’d finally give them in and say everybody take one of these, quickly take one, and he would say, ‘Stop! Stop the train! You have the wrong people, you have my citizens in there! He saved thousands.
This is one of the last ones that he wrote, the woman he wrote it for begged him to leave; he wouldn’t.  He said, ‘the Russians couldn’t be as bad as the Germans, and the Russians were right around the corner. He was last seen running into the arms of the Russian military. This is a cigarette case that was carried by one of those soldiers that he ran into the arms of. One of the first troops that came in. Wallenberg ran up to them and begged them for help, ‘help, help me save the Jews, help me save, stop this insanity. What’s on this cigarette case in Russian is carved, ‘Let’s kill all of the Jews and go home.’
Anti-semitism, hatred, racism is a human disease. We must look for the answers outside of the human race. We must look for the answers in God and Jesus Christ.

This story didn’t sound quite right. The part about Wallenberg saving Jews is right but the cigarette case component seemed like an embellishment. How would anyone know that about the cigarette case? Wallenberg disappeared after the liberation of Budapest and was never seen as a free man in public. He left behind no written accounts.
Curious about it, I contacted the Raoul Wallenberg Committee of the United States. Diane Blake is Director of Research and former Vice Chairman of The Raoul Wallenberg Committee. She graciously agreed to watch and evaluate Beck’s clip. Her initial assessment is as follows:

I have never heard anything about a Russian soldier with a hateful cigarette case.  I doubt that it is true.  I do know that Raoul had the support of the Swedish king and Swedish government when he went to Budapest.  When the United States formed the War Refugee Board, they were looking for a Christian from a neutral country to go to Budapest and try to save the last intact Jewish community in Europe.  They approached Sweden and Sweden agreed and Raoul was chosen.
Raoul certainly did not give himself up to Russian soldiers, pleading for help for the Jews.  Raoul got into the car with two Russian soldiers because he had an appointment with Marshal Malinovsky in Debrecen to discuss the next steps for Hungary, i.e.,  the search for missing persons and the reuniting of families, emergency food distribution, help with housing, etc.

Blake’s assessment of the Swedish king agrees the sources I can find on the subject. If Beck has a source where Gustav V actually spoke to Wallenberg and asked him not to go to Budapest, I would like to see it.  King Gustav actually intervened with the Hungarian regime to stop the deportation of Hungarian Jews to death camps. The Swedes were already involved in trying to save Jews in Hungary before Wallenberg was selected for his mission. Beck’s comment about the Swedish king certainly seems like an unnecessary embellishment.
Beck’s story of the cigarette case doesn’t add anything substantial to the story except it gave him an opportunity to show off another collector’s item. According to Blake, Wallenberg was taken into custody and never seen again.

On January 17, 1945,  somewhere en route to Marshal Malinovsky’s headquarters, Raoul and his driver (Vilmos Langfelder) were handed over to the NKVD.  By the first week of February, 1945, they were in separate cells in Moscow’s Lubianka Prison.  Raoul was never seen as a free man again.

In fact, the Russians liberated Budapest and saved the remaining Jewish population. Wallenberg was suspected of being an American spy and for reasons that are not still not totally clear was never released.
Essentially, Beck had it right that Raoul Wallenberg helped save thousands of Jews. However, why embellish? Why over dramatize something that is already amazing?