Death Korps of Krieg
"Animals flee this hell; the hardest stones cannot bear it for long; only men endure."
- – Diary of an unknown German soldier at Stalingrad
"In life, war. In death, peace. In life, shame. In death, atonement."
- – Final litany of the Litany of Sacrifice, recited by Krieg Korpsmen when entering battle
The Death Korps of Krieg, the most Grimdark of Grimdark
The Death Korps of Krieg is a series of Imperial Guard regiments which hail from the Death World of Krieg. They like trenches and gas masks and are known for their iron discipline and suicidal tolerance for casualties. In fact, they will take any objective and vanquish any enemy, just as long as they have enough men to throw in the meat grinder. Hell, Krieg means WAR in German (as you have gathered, the Imperium does not do 'subtle'). That's how badass they are. What's the difference between them and other Guard units, you ask? These motherfuckers don't even give a shit. They're some sort of badass human lemmings, and they are so grimdark that that they alone are responsible for about 20% of the grimdarkness in Warhammer 40,000. They have no will to live, no fucks to give, and one hell of a lot of xenos to shiv (with sharpened entrenching tools). This is said to be a relic of the tragic civil war on the original hive world of Krieg, a den of traitors, corruption and strife where rebels rose to power and seceded from the Imperium. However, loyalists Guardsmen decided to light Krieg up like it was nuclear 4th of July instead of letting the heretical rebels take control of the planet, resulting in their homeworld becoming a bitch of a radioactive hellhole (hence the Korps' gas mask fetish). Now the people of Krieg are so sad about their rebellious past they’d literally rather die than continue living their shameful lives.
The greatest source of mundane horror in all of Warhammer, the Death Korps does not need eldritch nonsense or nonsensical alien "biology" for the darkness factor. This is quite simply humanity at its worst and nothing more.
As the most popular (Fluffwise) regiment, Forge World has models for them that cost more than the average Kriegsman's life, but then again that's not really a high bar. Thankfully, Anvil Industry comes to the rescue with their Regiments range, allowing anyone to build very authentic-looking Kriegers, complete with their signature death masks, unique lasguns and wheeled heavy weapons.
Also it needs to be said that in current non-jokey 40k canon there is an in universe romance novel about Kriegers titled "My Wish to Generate Children with You is Only Exceeded by My Devotion to Him."
If you think about it, the Death Korps suicidal nut jobs are better equipped than most Guardsmen. They have flak armor like any other, but they have plasteel helmets, their lasguns are much more powerful, their bayonet skill is outright legendary, their uniform is fully sealed against nuclear, biological, and chemical attack (also protecting them from the mud, rain, and other elements and likely acting as an any environment survival suit issued to the Guard), and they have a backpack full of gear and supplies instead of rushing into battle practically (or literally) naked. Heck, these suicidal guys even have grenadiers wearing carapace armor wielding hellguns despite being sent specifically to get killed doing something useful. Their tank regiments include heavy tank companies and super heavy tanks (like the Mordian Iron Guard, come to think of it). They also have WAAAAAY more artillery and heavy weapons than anyone else. They make the CADIANS look under-equipped and poorly trained.
The Civil War
Some time ago Krieg was a pretty sweet planet to live on, until the heretical dickwad of a Planetary Governor (and most of the ruling elite) decided to detach from the Imperium. Needless to say the loyal citizens wouldn't let the rebel scum get away with that and a bloody civil war broke out. The loyalists were severely outnumbered, and only managed to seize control of a single hive called Ferrograd (ferro is Latin for iron and grad is old Slavic for town - GW being subtle), due to the fact that a loyal Krieg Imperial Guard regiment under the command of a Colonel Jurten was there, waiting to depart. While getting some turnips out of the basement Jurten tripped over some nukes and decided to even the odds by blowing the world back to the Stone Age. Afterwards, after just 500 years of continual terrible war, the loyalists managed to drag Krieg back into the paralysed lap of the Emperor. Today the citizens of Krieg celebrate the day their hero Colonel Jurten destroyed their planet's ecosystem on "Jurten Day", when everybody digs out entrenchments and practices NBC weapons drills, just like every other day, though everyone gets one crumbly chocolate chip cookie.
The Death KorpsEmpra himself. In fact they've been so successful in producing hardass guardsmen that the Adeptus Mechanicus Biologis gave them some Vitae Wombs (IVF/clone tubes) so that they can produce even more top notch cannon fodder, which is important, because Krieg is a radioactive shithole, and most of them are sterile. So sterile that most Kriegers are born of complex gene-cloning and subsequent growth-vats. Their society is absolutely militarized. Children are being born only to be filled with the guilt of their ancestors, trained and sent to die for their Emperor. Contrary to other less
If one thing is even more serious business for Kriegers than dying, it's killing heretics with extreme prejudice, even by Imperial standards. As mentioned in the Codex: Stronghold Assault, once there was a Hive City that hadn't paid its tithe, and got a visit from the Death Korps for it. After five years of constant bombardment, the city surrendered unconditionally, but the Kriegers wouldn't just stop bombarding over such a small thing. After three more years, there was nobody left alive in the ruins anymore. The Death Korps still wouldn't leave until two years later - when they had eventually shot the entire mountain-sized Hive to rubble! (
That seems unusually wasteful for Krieger's. Aren't hives supposed to be sacred archeotech in and of themselves? Heretical Hives are worth less than the dirt under a Kriegers boot!) That was also more about making a point about why surrendering early is the best option for you. Wait, Hive Cities are protected by void shields capable of shrugging off orbital bombardment. Either the Kriegers had some huge toys or the humble Earthshaker isn't so humble.
A surprising degree of bio and cybernetic enhancements also appear to be common among Kriegers, which while taking away from their raw awesomeness, should give you idea of how high the esteem in which the Imperium holds the Death Korps.
The Munitorium has a hard on for these guys because unlike guardsmen from other places they always obey orders to the letter,
even especially when it means dying in droves. Most Kriegers never retreat, they almost fight to the death every time. Once when a Commissar ordered a retreat, an unknown Krieger shot the Commissar for cowardice. Seriously, these guys don't fuck around. The only thing that does happen once in a while that could be potentially seen as approaching a retreat is a regiment/army being reassigned if the high-ups conclude the objectives have been met or are simply no longer attainable and dying elsewhere serves the Emperor better. That being said, during the siege of Vraks the Krieger's shot their own Commissars who tried to stop their retreat, despite being the most fanatical of the Imperial Guard, they're still only human (p. 72, Imperial Armour 5, Siege of Vraks Part One, for all those who get a hard on for the Death Korps).
Now these suicidal, violent siege specialists are ordered to fight in the most dangerous battles. The Death Korps of Krieg may want to die, but death is a bitch to them. When they do die though, they are easily replaced. Join the Death Korps of Krieg now (rebreather, lasgun and no will to live included)!
Yes, they ride gasmasking-wearing horses into battle in the grim darkness of the 41st millennium. These are not any ordinary horses, though. Like Space Marines, they are genhanced with extra organs implanted to deal with harsh environments (giving them 6+ invulnerable save), keep them fighting well after any ordinary filly would be blasted to the knacker's. They are vat grown and implanted with devices to increase aggression. These form the backbone of the Krieg Death Rider units, who are lead by a Sergeant known as a "Ridemaster." They are used as scouts and to harass the enemy. In addition to lasguns and grenades, they carry a one-use-only explosive-tipped lance, and can charge "fleet of hoof" if not shooting.
It is stated that the Kriegers make use of "Vitae Womb" technology to keep up the annual crop of 50 million suicidally fanatical gas mask mooks specifically given to them by the Adeptus Mechanicus. What that means is a matter of debate, ranging from exowombs to drugs which increase fertility and accelerate pregnancy. What is not disputed is that it keeps population production up well beyond what can usually be achieved by human uteri. At least take comfort in the fact that it, in all likelihood, can't be as bad as a certain Warsmith's pet project.
Or could it?
In all honesty it's almost certainly just an artificial womb. There are women in the Krieg military, after all, which wouldn't happen if the women were bearing children. Speaking of, it's probably said women are altered in some way to be as physically, mentally, and emotionally tough, strong, and stab-happy as the next Krieger. (Women have a higher tolerance for pain than men (giving birth is no picnic), the men are more likely to need gene alterations to keep up with the women than the other way around).
Vraks, and Forge World Stupidity
For all that the soldiers of Krieg are supposed to be some of the hardest bastards in the Imperium, there comes a point where going any further with that characterization crosses the line into over-the-top caricature. Now, since 40k originally started out as a parody setting there's really nothing wrong with this so long as the writer meets one simple condition:
It has to be intentional.
When Imperial Armour released their Vraks trilogy, it was intended to be a dark and gritty example of siege warfare and a textbook example of Death Korps operations. Prior to this, they were written as pragmatic, capable, dedicated, and utterly ruthless soldiers who combined a willingness to sustain any casualties required to achieve their objectives on the battlefield while retaining enough tactical sense to sell their lives dearly. They were much like the Red Army during WW2, in this sense.
Instead, we were shown a teeming mass of "soldiers" who were effectively shambler zombies with guns; utterly incompetent and suicidal to the point where they were more concerned with killing themselves than the enemies of the Imperium. The sheer wastefulness of the Idiot Korps' tactics is so great that it becomes impossible to take any of the books seriously, and the setting is left poorer for it. In effect, they were turned from a portrayal of the Red Army during WW2 into a portrayal of the Red Army during WW2.
- Death Korps of Krieg kill.
- They seriously do not fuck around.
- They have cuirassiers that ride horses with fucking rebreathers. Yep...
- The lasgun model they use is called the "Lucius" Pattern No.98. (This is keeping with their German WW1 inspiration, the Mauser rifle that was standard issue was the model 1898) It might blow up if you fire it too quickly.
- Death Korps of Krieg resemble old World War I soldiers. Because of their name and the stahlhelm-style of their neck-protection, most people think they are German. However, the overall design of the DKoK is actually a mix between various armies from WW1 and even 19th century; their helmet is a stahlhelm-Adrian hybrid, their uniform is mostly French, their gas mask looks like British-American models, the grenadiers' armour plates are undoubtely German and the Death Riders and officer are French cuirassiers from the Napoleonic wars with the same WWI flavour. Meanwhile, their tanks, while the same Russes as everyone else in the Guard, have the trench-rails of WW2 French tanks.
- I bet they allow the use of hardcore cocaine. And they won't take it because it doesn't help in killing heretics or dying fast enough.
- They have cool looking "Grenadiers" for, well, grenadiering?
- They don't desert, ever (they're not all that into sweet things anyway).
- They're German-French-British-American, of course they're gonna win (after taking a stupidly high amount of casualties).
- "Kill confirmed" is the only thing they ever say
in combatever. They don't fly aerial vehicles, they just crash them into enemy AA guns. 50\50 chance of them still surviving.They fly CAS and bomber aircraft into the most suicidal of missions, and once irreparably damaged, suicide-bomb them into enemy AA to clear the way for other air units.
- A Krieger's idea of courting involves finding a suitable female (or male) in the trench who doesn't look like all the other suicidal gas mask wearing nutbars in brown who hasn't been blown to smithereens...yet.
- Krieger pickup lines are notoriously bad, so bad they make the Mechanicus look like Barry White! Notable lines include "I wish to have a cloning vat of fetuses with you", "Would you like to share this additional synthesized Mechanicus issued ration bar with me at sixteen hundred hours?", "Would you like to go for some recaff with me?" (so far so good), "I found this lovely little bombed out fox-hole near our position, its very romantic" (sure if you find love on Armageddon!), and "My gene donors (the parents) are away on deployment this weekend, I've got the whole barracks to myself, and I just picked up a mixtape of the most romantic Krieger music" (hint: it sounds like guns firing, orders being screamed, explosions, and boots marching...very romantic).
- Rejection in Krieg is common and common excuses include "I'm washing my scalp" (Kriegers are bald), "I'd love to but I have a Tyranid invasion to stop", "I'd love to but I've just been ordered to charge that dugout, gonna be busy all day", "I can't go to the dance with you I'm dying for the emperor tomorrow", and "I like you as a friend".
- If Krieg and Cadia swapped places Abaddon would have stayed in the eye of terror.(But the Imperial casualties would have increased by an order of magnitude)
- A romantic evening to a Krieger usually involves barbed wire, grey dug out positions, landmines, a search light, latrines, an emplaced heavy machine gun, and some stick bombs.
- Kill or be Killed, either way, Krieg is redeemed. One milimetre at a time.
- A Krieg Death Corps trooper and a Catachan Jungle Fighter got into a fight to see who was the most badass type of guardsman ever. Except no they didn't, because a true Krieger always has more important shit to get done.
- They are highly popular with the Commissariat as they do not retreat. They hold the line.
- Will kill their commander if they are ordered to retreat more than a few times.
Unless they have a reason, that isTHEY NEVER HAVE A REASON TO RETREAT, AVE IMPERATOR!!!!!!!
- Jokes aside, the one time even they broke was against literally the single worst batch of chemical weapons in Warhammer history (which is really saying something) on Vraks by the The Purge. It literally took a rolling blackout of super heavy tank melting gas fired by the single most life hating unit of beings to ever exist to drive them off. By one trench line exactly. (And even then they weren't so much driven off as melted where they stood.) Even then, this isn't really "breaking" - they're strategically repositioning so they can die for the Emperor in a more useful way than being turned into poisonous slag.
The Death Korps are very clearly based off of German, French, British, and American WWI soldiers, all the way down to their trenchcoats (French), gasmasks(American/British), helmets (German hybrid), their riders (French), love of big guns (American/German) and of course, affinity for trench warfare. Just like the good ol'
Somme Ypres Marne Verdun Passchendaele, eh?
- Love and Krieg, and its various spin-offs.
- Tactics/Death Korps of Krieg
- Writefaggotry about the mind of a Deathkorps Medicae
- A rare female Krieger Scheisse! Link is broken.
- Krieg song by StringStorm