Military Review

How Russian Germans in Paraguay defeated

The fact that in Spain the republican army with the participation of advisers from the USSR suffered defeat from the troops of General Franco, who were assisted by the Nazis, is well known to all. But the fact that about the same years in South America, the army of Paraguay, which was also led by Russian officers, utterly defeated the Bolivian army, commanded by the Kaiser generals, much better than theirs in size and better armed than the army of Bolivia. These were former white officers who had to leave Russia after the end of the Civil War, and during the Soviet times it was forbidden to mention them, and then they simply forgot about their exploits ...
This year marks the 85 years since the beginning of this war - the bloodiest in South America - between Bolivia and Paraguay, which was called Chakska. Among the command of the Bolivian army were 120 German emigre officers, including the commander of the Bolivian army Kaiser General Hans Kundt, who fought in World War I on our front. And in the Paraguayan army, former White Guard officers served as 80, including two former generals — Chief of the General Staff of the Paraguayan Army, Ivan Belyaev and Nikolay Ern.

How Russian Germans in Paraguay defeated

One of the first serious battles with the participation of Russian and German officers was the battle for the fortress of Boquerón, which was held by the Bolivians. In the autumn of 1932, after a long siege, the fortress fell.

Kundt threw forces at the storming of the city of Nanava, but the Russian commanders Belyaev and Ern unraveled his tactics and utterly defeated the attacking forces of the Bolivians, after which the German general was dismissed in disgrace.

In 1934, at the battle of El Carmen, German advisers abandoned their subordinates to their fate, fleeing from the battlefield.

... The future hero of South America, Ivan Timofeevich Belyaev, was born in St. Petersburg in the year 1875, in a hereditary military family. After graduating from the St. Petersburg Cadet Corps, he entered the Mikhailovsky Artillery School. Having started his service in the army, he quickly grew in rank, showing great talents to army science. In 1906, he experienced a personal drama - his beloved young wife died. In 1913, Belyaev drafted a charter for mountain artillery, mountain batteries and mountain artillery groups, which became a major contribution to the development of military affairs in Russia.

In World War I fought bravely, was awarded the Order of St. George. At the beginning of 1916, he was seriously injured and was treated in Her Majesty’s infirmary at Tsarskoe Selo. As commander of the 13-th separate field heavy artillery battalion, he participated in the Brusilov breakthrough. In 1916, he became a major general and commander of an artillery brigade on the Caucasian front. The revolution did not accept. In March, 1917, at the Pskov railway station, in response to the request of the noncom, a platoon of soldiers to take off their shoulder straps, Belyaev replied: “My dear! I not only shoulder straps and stripes, I will take off my pants if you turn with me on the enemy. And I didn’t go and don’t go against the внутреннего internal enemy ’, since you’ll dismiss me!” He joined the White Army, and then with it was forced to leave Russia.

First I found myself in a camp in Gallipoli, and then in Bulgaria. But suddenly he left Europe and found himself in a beggar then Paraguay. He did this not by chance.

Even as a child, Belyaev found a map of Asuncion, the capital of this country, in the attic of his great-grandfather's house, and since then the muse of distant wanderings has passionately attracted him across the ocean. In the cadet corps he began to learn Spanish, the manners and customs of the population of this country, read out the novels of Main Reed and Fenimore Cooper.

Belyaev decided to create a Russian colony in this country, but few responded to his call. He himself, once in Paraguay, immediately found an application to his strength and knowledge. He was taken to military school, where he began teaching fortification and French. In 1924, the authorities sent him to the jungle, to the little-studied area of ​​Chaco-Boreal, to find convenient places for the troops to stand. On this trip, Belyaev behaved like a real ethnographer. He compiled a detailed description of the area, studied the life and culture of local Indians, compiled dictionaries of their languages ​​and even translated their poem “The Great Flood” into Russian.

Under the banner of Paraguay

The beginning of the war between Bolivia and Paraguay is often associated with "philatelic" reasons. In the early 30s. The Government of Paraguay issued a postage stamp with a map of the country and “neighboring territories”, in which the disputed area of ​​Chaco was marked as Paraguayan territory. After a series of diplomatic demarches, Bolivia began hostilities. Issue of such a postage stamp - historical fact. However, the true cause of the war, of course, is different: the oil discovered in this region. The hostilities between the two countries - the bloodiest war in South America in the 1932th century - lasted from 1935 to XNUMX. The Bolivian army, as already mentioned, was trained by the Germans - former Kaiser officers who emigrated to Bolivia when Germany lost the First World War. At one time, the main Hitler attack aircraft Ernst Rem also visited there as an adviser. The soldiers of the Bolivian army wore a Kaiser uniform; they underwent training in accordance with Prussian military standards. The army was equipped with the most modern weapons, including armored vehicles, tanks, and in numbers it far exceeded the army of Paraguay. Kundt, after declaring war, boastfully promised to “eat the Russians with lightning speed” - the Germans knew against whom they would have to fight.

Almost no one doubted the rapid defeat of the poorly armed and even worse trained Paraguayan army. The government of Paraguay could only hope for the help of Russian emigre officers.

Belyaev became the inspector general of artillery, and soon he was appointed chief of the army general staff. He appealed to the Russian officers, who were far from their homeland, with a call to come to Paraguay, and this call found a response. These were mostly former White Guards. Colonels Nicholas and Sergei Ern built fortifications, so much so that the first of them very soon became a Paraguayan general. Major Nikolai Korsakov, teaching his cavalry regiment to military affairs, translated for him into Spanish the songs of Russian cavalrymen. Captain Yuri Butlerov (a descendant of an outstanding chemist, Academician AM Butlerov), majors Nikolai Chirkov and Nikolai Zimovsky, captain of 1 rank Vsevolod Kanonnikov, captains Sergey Salazkin, George Shirkin, Baron Konstantin Ungern von Sternberg, Nikolai Goldschmit and Leonid Lesch, lieutenants Vasily Malyutin, Boris Ern, the Oranzheree brothers and many others became heroes of the war in Chaco.

Russian officers created, literally from scratch, a powerful regular army in the full sense of the word. There were artillery specialists, cartographers, veterinarians, and instructors in all types of weapons.

In addition, unlike the German and Czech military advisers, as well as Chilean mercenaries in the Bolivian army, the Russians did not fight for money, but for the independence of the country they wanted to see and saw as their second homeland.

Excellent training of Russian officers, plus the combat experience of the First World War and the Civil War gave brilliant results.

The fighting took place in the Northern Chaco - the desert scorched by the sun. After heavy winter rains, it turned into an impassable swamp, where malaria and tropical fever reigned, and poisonous spiders and snakes swelled. Comandante Belyaev skilfully led the troops, while Russian officers and Russian volunteers who arrived from other countries, who formed the backbone of the Paraguayan army, fought bravely. The German-led Bolivians suffered huge losses in frontal attacks (in the first week of fighting alone, they lost 2 to thousands of people, and the Paraguayan army to 249). The Russian front-line soldiers, the Oranzheree brothers, trained Paraguayan soldiers to successfully burn enemy shelter tanks. In December, 1933, in the battle of Campo Via, the Paraguayans surrounded two Bolivian divisions, taking prisoner or killing 10 thousands of people. The following year also ended the battle of El Carmen. It was a complete rout.

Barefoot Paraguayan soldiers were rapidly moving to the west, singing Russian soldiers' songs, translated by Belyaev into Spanish and Guarani. The Paraguay offensive stopped only in 1935. Coming close to the Bolivian Highlands, the army was forced to stop due to the length of communications. Bolivia, exhausted to the limit, could no longer continue the war. 12 On June 1935, a ceasefire agreement was signed between Bolivia and Paraguay, which ended the Chuck war, almost the entire Bolivian army was captured - 300 000 people.

In Paraguay, enthusiastic crowds carried the winners in their arms, and the American military historian D. Zuk called the Russian general Ivan Belyaev the most prominent commander of Latin America of the twentieth century.

He noted that the Paraguayan command was able to use the lessons of the First World War and to anticipate the experience of the Second, using the tactics of massive concentration of artillery fire and the wide use of maneuver. Emphasizing the courage and endurance of the Paraguayan soldiers, an American expert, nevertheless, concluded that it was the command of the troops led by the Russian officers who decided the outcome of the war.

Russian heroes of Paraguay

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Stepan Leontyevich was born in a simple peasant family, in the village of Nalyvayko near Kamenetz-Podolsk. He graduated from the accelerated course of the Vilna Military School and at the age of nineteen volunteered for the fronts of the First World War. He was wounded five times, and in 1916, he was made an officer. In the Civil War, he fought in the ranks of the White Army. In November, 1920, along with the remnants of General Wrangel’s army, arrived in Gallipoli. In 1921, from Gallipoli, he came to Riga on foot, having traveled almost three thousand kilometers. Then he moved to Prague, where in 1928 he graduated from the Faculty of Physics and Mathematics of a local university with the title of Doctor of Science in Higher Mathematics and Experimental Physics. In 1933, he graduated from the Czech Military Academy. In December, 1933 arrived in Paraguay, and was accepted into the Paraguayan army with the rank of captain.

Distinguished himself in the military field, Vysokolyan throughout his life in Paraguay held a department of physical, mathematical and economic sciences at a local university. In addition, he was a professor at the Higher Military Academy, the Higher Maritime Academy and the Cadet Corps. In 1936, he was awarded the title of "honorary citizen" of the Paraguayan Republic and was awarded the gold medal of the Military Academy.

And besides, Vysokolyan became world-famous in connection with his decision of the Fermat theorem, over which many luminaries of the mathematical world had unsuccessfully fought for more than three centuries. The Russian hero died in Asuncion in 1986, at 91, the year of his life, and was buried with military honors in the South Russian cemetery.

On this occasion, national mourning was declared in the country.

Another Russian general who fought in the army of Paraguay, Nikolai Frantsevich Ern, graduated from the prestigious Nicholas Academy of the General Staff in St. Petersburg. During the First World War, he was Chief of Staff of the 66 Infantry Division, and then Chief of Staff of the 1 Caucasian Cossack Division. In October 1915, an expeditionary force was formed to be sent to Persia. The head of his headquarters was Colonel Ern. Then he became a member of the Civil War on the side of the whites. He remained in Russia until the last moment, and left her with the last ship, where General Wrangel's headquarters was located.

After long ordeal, Nikolai Frantsevich ended up in Brazil, where he was invited to his place by a group of white officers who worked on the land, planting corn. In their misfortune, the locusts flew and ate all the crops. But Ernu was lucky, he received an invitation from Paraguay to teach tactics and fortification in a military school. Since 1924, Ern lived in Paraguay, occupying the post of professor at the Military Academy. And when the war of Paraguay against Bolivia began, he went to the front. Passed through the war, built military fortifications. After the war, he remained in military service and worked at the General Staff until the end of his life, receiving a general salary. By his efforts, the Russian church was built, the Russian library was founded, and the Russian Union Union society was formed.

"White Father"

But the main Russian national hero of Paraguay was General Belyaev, who distinguished himself not only on the battlefield. After the war, he made another attempt to create a successful Russian colony in Paraguay. “Autocracy, Orthodoxy, Nationality” - this is how General Belyaev understood the essence of the “Russian spirit”, who wanted to preserve the ark he built in the jungles of South America. However, not everyone was agreed with this. Political and commercial intrigues began around his project, with which, in turn, Belyaev could not agree. In addition, Paraguay, exhausted by the war, was unable to fulfill its promises of financial and economic support for the Russian emigration and the creation of a colony.

From the materials of Wikipedia, it follows that, having left military service, the native of St. Petersburg devoted the rest of his life to the Paraguayan Indians. Belyaev headed the National Patronage for Indian Affairs, organized the first Indian theater troupe.

The retired general lived with the Indians in a simple hut, ate with them at the same table and even taught them Russian prayers. Aboriginal people paid him with ardent love and appreciation and treated him like a “white father”.
As a linguist, he compiled Spanish-maca and Spanish-chamacoco dictionaries, and also prepared a report on the language of the poppy tribe, where Belyaev singles out the Sanskrit roots of both Indian languages ​​and traces their ascent to a common Indo-European basis. He belongs to the theory of the Asian homeland of the indigenous people of the Americas, which is supported by records of the folklore of the poppy and chamacoco Indians, collected by the researcher during his travels in Chaco.

Belyaev devoted a number of works to the religion of the Indians of the Chaco region. In them he talks about the similarity of the beliefs of Indians with the Old Testament plots, about the depth of their religious feeling and about the universal character of the foundations of Christian morality. Belyaev developed an innovative approach to the question of introducing Indians to modern civilization, defending the principle of mutual enrichment of the cultures of the Old and New Worlds - long before this concept was widely recognized in Latin America.

In April, the 1938 of the Year at the National Theater of Asuncion with a full house hosted the premiere of the performance of the first in the history of America Indian theater about the participation of Indians in the Chak War. After some time, the troupe in 40 man under the leadership of Belyaev went on tour to Buenos Aires, where she was waiting for a resounding success. In October 1943, Belyaev finally received the go-ahead for the creation of the first Indian colony. And its creator in the year 1941 was awarded the title of General Administrator of the Indian colonies. Belyaev’s views were set forth by him in the “Declaration of the Rights of the Indians.” Having studied the life of the indigenous inhabitants of Chaco, Belyaev considered it necessary to secure the land of their ancestors in law. In his opinion, the Indians are naturally “free as the wind”, do not do anything under duress, and must themselves be the engine of their own progress. To this end, he proposed to give the Indians complete autonomy and, at the same time, with the eradication of illiteracy, gradually introduce into the consciousness of their inhabitants the foundations of cultural life, democratic values, etc. At the same time, the Russian general warned against temptation to destroy the way of life of Indians that had taken shape - their culture, life, language, religion, since this, given the conservatism inherent in the Indians and respect for the memory of their ancestors, would only alienate them from the "white man culture."

During World War II, Belyaev, as a Russian patriot, supported the USSR in the fight against fascism. He actively opposed those immigrants who saw in Germany “the savior of Russia from Bolshevism”. In his memoirs, the retired general called them "idiots and deceivers."

Died Belyaev 19 January 1957, in Asuncion. Details of the funeral are given, in particular, in the book of S.Yu. Nechaev "Russian in Latin America." In Paraguay, mourning was declared for three days. The body of the deceased was buried in the Column Hall of the General Staff, with military honors as a national hero. At the coffin, replacing each other, the first persons of the state were on duty. During the funeral procession, a crowd of Indians, literally flooded the streets of Asuncion, followed the hearse. President A. Stroessner himself stood in the guard of honor at the tomb, the Paraguayan orchestra played “Farewell of the Slav”, and the Indians sang “Our Father” in translation to the deceased ... The capital of Paraguay did not see such a thing before or after this sad event. And when the coffin with the body of Belyaev on a military ship was taken to an island in the middle of the Paraguay River, chosen by him in his testament as the last resting place, the Indians removed the whites. In the hut, where their leader taught the children, they sang their tombstones over him for a long time. After the funeral, a hut was woven over the grave, planted around rose bushes. On a simple quadrangle of land laid out a simple inscription: "Belyaev lies here."
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  1. Reptiloid
    Reptiloid 2 December 2017 06: 46
    Thanks so much for the story.
    I didn’t know about the “white father” before.
  2. Same lech
    Same lech 2 December 2017 06: 50
    Paraguayan command was able to use the lessons of the First World War and anticipate the experience of the Second, using tactics of massive concentration of artillery fire and the widespread use of maneuver.

    Suvorov tactics, under equal conditions with the enemy, it always turned out to be true ... brave Suvorov taught Russian officers to fight.
  3. parusnik
    parusnik 2 December 2017 08: 29
    which was also led by Russian officers, utterly defeated the much better and better armed army of Bolivia under the command of the Kaiser generals
    .. "The Russian Prussian always beat, what can I learn from here?" - A.V.Suvorov..And about the Chuck war, in Soviet times there were articles in the journal Latin America. It wasn’t in mass sale. Only by subscription. I came in an envelope.
  4. XII Legion
    XII Legion 2 December 2017 08: 39
    Russian officer - he is in Africa (that is, in South America)) officer
  5. moskowit
    moskowit 2 December 2017 08: 40
    An article on this subject of almost the same content was published on the highly respected Military Review website.
    "" Confrontation between Russian and German officers in the jungle of Latin America

    27 September 2017 ""
    And in the comments to her they were already perplexed about the title of “major”. In the Russian Imperial Army there was no such rank since 1884 ....
    One more thing. Some kind of inconsistency of words and deeds, according to the authors, General Belyaev ...
    "My dear! I’m not only shoulder straps and stripes, I’ll take off my pants if you turn with me on the enemy. But I didn’t go against my “internal enemy” and I won’t go, so you will fire me! ” Joined the ranks of the White Army,

    He says one thing, does another ... At least they would edit the text ...
  6. Cartalon
    Cartalon 2 December 2017 09: 44
    More recently, there was an article on the topic of this war, but everything is exactly the pathos beginning, about which not many know, I'm afraid many who do not know this resource do not read.
  7. creak
    creak 2 December 2017 09: 59
    Along with Soviet advisers, former white officers also participated in the Spanish Civil War. Some died or were injured, while Major General Fock, being wounded, shot himself in order not to be captured by the Republicans ...
    Such is the echo of the civil war in Russia ...
  8. Curious
    Curious 2 December 2017 10: 32
    A classic example of raking in heat with the wrong hands. As soon as the assumptions arose in 1928 that Chaco might have oil reserves, oil corporations appeared there: American Standard Oil supported Bolivia, and British Shell Oil Paraguay, enticing them against each other, So the Germans and Russians fought against each other for British and American interests. Hence the winner is determined.
    But oil was found in Chaco only in 2012.
  9. Lieutenant Teterin
    Lieutenant Teterin 2 December 2017 11: 13
    Great article. The Chuck war is indeed little known in Russia, but such an attitude towards it is in vain. Russian officers here proved themselves to be dangerous and worthy adversaries of the Germans.
    1. Monarchist
      Monarchist 2 December 2017 15: 59
      Teterin, Russian officers have always been distinguished by courage and skill. In WWI, RIA was a dangerous adversary for the Germans. On the pages of our site there have been publications on the WWI theme more than once and the mind and courage of our military are mentioned almost everywhere
  10. nivander
    nivander 2 December 2017 15: 37
    artillery battery commander captain Boris Kasiyanoff at the cost of life saved his subordinates among them was the gun commander 19-year-old junior lieutenant Alfred Stroessner. And the Russians revealed a terrible secret to the paralyzed Paraguayans - if you slurp rum and at the same time have a snack, then the fun will last longer (historical fact) - before that, at the officers' parties, the aborigines quickly got drunk in zyuza
  11. Monarchist
    Monarchist 2 December 2017 16: 11
    About the "Russian trace" in Paraguay, and in particular about General Belyaev talked on TV. It was also said there: under Stresner, a secret order was in force in the Paraguayan secret police: "Do not disturb the Russians without special need."
    General Belyaev is mentioned in Stepanov’s books: “Port Arthur” and “The Zvonarev Family”
  12. fsm2003
    fsm2003 3 December 2017 09: 29
    In connection with the solution of the theorem, Fermat did not understand Vysokolyan's world fame. He didn’t decide her
  13. captain
    captain 5 December 2017 19: 30
    Thanks to the author for the article. I want to add some moments of Russian participation in the war.
    Where the fate of the Cossacks did not throw after the Civil War. After the defeat in the Civil War in Russia, the last few Cossack divisions, which almost completely restrained the red assault on Crimea, did not want to accept any European country. Then the command of the Cossacks decided to evacuate to Argentina. Argentina also did not agree to accept the Cossacks, but provided a corridor for their passage to Paraguay. The President of Paraguay understood that these warriors would come in handy to Paraguay. So in 1922 in Paraguay the first Cossack settlements were formed. When Bolivia attacked Paraguay and the Chuck war broke out, the Paraguayan government turned to Cossack emigrants and Russian officers for help. Russian officers formed the backbone of the high command of the Paraguayan army, leading it to victory in the Chuck war. The best trained regiments were Cossacks. There were up to three thousand people in the Paraguayan army. Some officers became commanders of divisions, regiments, and battalions. Almost a few of the peasants of the Paraguayans created an army in a few months, which defeated the Bolivian. A few years later, Paraguay with honor withdrew from the war, expelling the aggressors. Paraguay remembers the Cossacks who gave their lives for their country; Streets in cities and squares are named after our compatriots. The regiments in which a large percentage were Cossacks were the most combat-ready. So 3 thousands of Cossacks showed themselves well in a foreign land.
    I don’t know for what reason the author did not write about the Cossacks, I think he could write much more and more interesting than me.
  14. Captain Nemo
    Captain Nemo 11 December 2017 20: 44
    Fantasy. Covers a sense of pride in our ancestors
  15. wooja
    wooja 1 July 2018 18: 31
    yes there were people ,,,