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Saying  Nyet  to “Soviet Space Marines”  by Kenton Kilgore
It’s happened a time or two that a visitor to either this site or the Jungle Facebook page has passed along to me a link to one or more sites that have photos of 40K miniatures or 40K cosplayers whose paint schemes or costumes are inspired by the former Soviet Union.  Usually, this is done with Space Marines, but I’ve also seen it done with Imperial Guard Astra Militarum.  To be specific, these minis or costumes almost always feature a red star and/or a hammer & sickle insignia.

Let me preface the rest of this article with this statement: I am not now, and have never been, in favor of telling a player what they can and can’t do with their army.  Lord knows, I have caught enough grief about female Space Marines.  No, my attitude is that if you bought it, you built it, and you painted it—hell, even if someone gave you a handful of already-assembled, unpainted minis—you can do anything you want with it, and anyone who doesn’t like it can smooch your buttocks.

That being said, I am never going to post photos of “Soviet Marines” or “Soviet Guard,” or post links to sites that feature them, either here or on the Jungle’s FB page. 

Why not?  Because:



If you were born and raised in the United States or Western Europe, particularly if you came into this world in the late 1980s or afterwards, you might wonder what the big deal is.  Those of us who are older, particularly those of us who lived in/come from/have family in Eastern Europe most likely understand exactly what the big deal is.



That is, if you thought that Nazi Germany was bad (and it was, of course), Soviet Russia was just as bad.  In fact, I’d argue that the Soviet Union was worse.  Because the Third Reich only lasted 12 years (1933-1945), but the Soviet Union lasted 69 years (1922-1991).  In those 69 years, the government of the Soviet Union, and its minions who wore the star, hammer, and sickle, committed untold atrocities against millions and millions of people. 

This is a gaming site, not The History Channel, so let’s just hit some highlights of crimes committed by the Soviets, shall we?

And for any revisionist historians who want to argue, “Yeah, well, the U.S. and its allies did a lot of bad things, too,” that’s true (e.g., the firebombing of Dresden), but let me remind you that thousands of people did not risk death or brutal imprisonment to sneak into the Soviet Union or any of its vassal states.   

Let’s Get Personal
In the interests of full disclosure, and to take this discussion to another level, my family is from Germany, and I had two relatives (my maternal grandfather and my great-uncle) who fought on the Eastern Front during the war. 

Both survived, but my grandfather was blinded, shot through the head.  My great-uncle was captured by the Red Army, was forced to live for years in Romania under harrowing conditions, and was not permitted to return to Germany until the early 1980’s. 

Jungle Guide Patrick Eibel is of Polish heritage; as in, his father was born in Gdansk, Poland, which would later attain notoriety when Lech Walesa espoused Solidarity.  When the Germans invaded, his father was sent to hide out with relatives in the Carpathian Mountains, while his grandfather was a doctor in the Polish military and assisted in fighting the Nazis. 

After German occupation ended, life was not much better under Communist rule, and many a local ideological dissenter would disappear, never to be seen again.  Pat’s father enlisted in the Merchant Marines to train as an engineer, but eventually decided to leave his family in Poland behind and defect, jumping off his ship as it left New York Harbor, to seek asylum.

Now, I don’t expect you to feel an iota of sympathy for my grandfather and my great-uncle.  Even if they didn’t do anything more than fight for their country, even if they personally never committed any war crimes (which I would like to believe, but in all honesty, I can’t claim with 100% surety), the cause they fought for was evil, and the horror the Germans inflicted was monstrous.      

But Pat’s father did nothing to warrant living under tyranny.  Nor did my great-uncle’s wife and children.  They aren’t statistics: they’re actual people I’ve known who suffered at the hands of the Soviets.  So that's why I don’t want their symbol on my site.   

So What?
You might be saying, “Big deal.  World War II and the Cold War were a long time ago, the Russians didn’t hurt anyone I know, and I think the Soviet theme is pretty cool.”  And that’s your right.  You’re not a bad person if you want to paint up a mess of Marines like that, and yeah, I’ll play against you and your army, just like I did many moons ago when I took on Dwayne Powell’s Oktober Guard.

But I’m not going to put photos of them on the Jungle, any more than I’d post photos of Space Marines with swastikas (and yes, I’ve seen that done).  Because for me, the sickle and hammer isn’t any better.       

Kenton Kilgore is forging a new direction in young adult science-fiction and fantasy.  His latest work in progress is In Lonely Lands, a modern fantasy/horror novel, to be published in early 2017.

Kenton is the author of Dragontamer's Daughters, based on Navajo culture and belief.  He also wrote Lost Dogs, the story of a German Shepherd and a Beagle-mix who survive the end of the human world, only to find that their struggles have just begun.  With Patrick Eible, he created Our Wild Place, a children's book about the joy to be found in exploring Nature.

Follow Kenton on Facebook for daily posts on sci-fi, fantasy, and other speculative fiction.

Posted July 2016.


Fighting Tigers:
Codex <> Tactics <> Gallery <> Allies and Enemies <> Tales of the Tigers

Other Pages:
Main <> What's New <> Site Index <> The Tiger Roars <> Themed Army Ideas
Events and Battle Reports <> Campaigns <> Terrain <> FAQ <> Beyond the Jungle