Military Review

Russians in battles for Paraguay

General Belyaev opened a second homeland for his compatriots

The seemingly simple question is how many times in the past century we had to cross weapon with the Germans, most will undoubtedly answer: "Three." Yes, it was so: two world wars and a civil war in Spain. But there was another place on earth where the Russians and Germans looked at each other through the rifle scope.

The February coup and the fratricidal turmoil that ensued led to the collapse of traditional Russian statehood and the unprecedented outcome of our compatriots abroad. Paris has become a peculiar Mecca of Russian emigration. However, not only on the banks of the Seine did former subjects of the once great empire find their second homeland. Fate scattered them around the world, many left in search of happiness and a better share of the ocean - in Latin America, where most of the exiles settled in Argentina, whose lands were settled by Russian colonists since the 70-s of the XIX century.

Distant refuge for immigrants

But there was another country on this continent, in which Russian emigrants not only found shelter, but also played, without exaggeration, a decisive role in its stories. This is Paraguay. Formed in the 1810 year, by the middle of the XIX century, it was an advanced state, much earlier than the United States got rid of slavery and granted Indians equal rights with the descendants of white settlers - the Creoles.

Russians in battles for ParaguayParaguay was developing rapidly economically, which caused displeasure of its neighbors: Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay. They united in the Triple Alliance and during the six-year war crushed the power of Paraguay, effectively bringing it to a demographic catastrophe: the loss of the male population was 80 percent.

It seemed that the country was no longer reborn. But the Civil War in distant Russia echoed in Paraguay, though a small, but still a wave of immigrants who poured into its sparse forests and covered with tropical forests first of all - White Guard officers. They were destined to change the fate of this small Latin-American state.

The soul of the Russian military emigration in Paraguay was Major General Ivan Timofeevich Belyaev, a person undeservedly forgotten in Russia, but still revered in his second homeland. This is not surprising, since it is Belyaev Paraguay who is obliged to master the previously vacant lands and to win the bloody war with neighboring Bolivia.

Once, in the years of distant youth, the future general found the map of Asuns-she in the attic of his house and literally fell in love with this yet unknown country. In the Cadet Corps, he learned Spanish, and after the sudden death of his young wife, he even wanted to leave for Paraguay as a military instructor. But the sense of duty peculiar to the Russian officers outweighed the romantic desire — Belyaev remained in Russia.

He met the First World War with an artillery officer, fought bravely: for saving the battery and personal leadership of the attack, he was awarded the Order of St. George. It is noteworthy that after serious defeats of the Russian troops in 1915, Belyaev proposed to create in the rear reserve battalions from each regiment, in which personnel officers and lower ranks who had solid service experience in the pre-war period, would bring replenishment in the glorious traditions of the imperial army.

And if this far-sighted idea were adopted by the command, then it is likely that the tragic collapse of the army and the bloody fratricidal confusion would have been prevented.

In 1917, Belyaev was promoted to major general. In the terrible months after the February coup, when the front of the soldiers began to terror against the officers, Ivan Timofeevich defiantly refused to remove the epaulets (for their wearing they could simply be killed, first subjected to torture and humiliation). Since the beginning of the Civil War, he was in charge of supply in the Volunteer Army of General A. I. Denikin.

However, unshakable monarchical convictions, Belyaev's never hidden, and the categorical rejection of food requisition from the local population gave rise to strained relations with the commander in chief.

Denikin, a former Republican and an honest officer, disinterested and even ascetic in everyday life, did not approve requisition himself, but did not find in himself sufficient strength to fight them. As a result, when the Armed Forces of Southern Russia were established on the basis of the Don and Volunteer armies in January 1919, Belyaev accepted the position of artillery inspector of the Volunteer Army, wanting to be closer to the front. After the liberation of Kharkov in the summer of the same year, he began to issue weapons at the local locomotive plant.

"Russian hearth"

The last page of the White movement in the south of Russia is well known - it is as tragic, and so brilliant. The enormous numerical advantage of the Bolshevik troops did not leave the small Russian army of P. N. Wrangel (took command of Denikin) a chance for success. But the baron conducted an exemplary evacuation of his units and the civilian population - almost everyone who wanted - abroad.

Belyaev was among those who left Russia: in 1923, he moved to Buenos Aires. Probably, he would have to share the fate of other emigrants - poverty, bordering on poverty, and hard work in order to survive at the lowest paid jobs.

However, thanks to Baroness Jesse de Loew, whose late husband was once a good friend of Belyaev’s father, the general got a job as a teacher in a college. His main dream was the creation of the Russian community, capable of preserving national, national, religious and cultural traditions.

True, in Argentina it was not possible to do this, because the local pre-revolutionary community had a cool attitude to the newcomers. And in 1924, Belyaev moved to Paraguay, which became his second homeland for him and many of his compatriots, where Ivan Timofeevich finally managed to realize his dream - to create a colony “Russian hearth”.

Driven by broad intentions, Belyaev turned to his compatriots who were thrown out of Russia, urging them to move to Paraguay. Responded mainly to the military and engineers, just so necessary for the country.

Soon, Belyaev and his fellow officers were assigned to study the lands that were part of the Chaco region, a little-studied and inhabited by Indians. Ivan Timofeevich performed a topographical survey of the area and established contact with local tribes, whose language, life, religion and culture he thoroughly studied. As a sign of respect, the Indians gave Belyaev the name Alebuk (Strong Hand) and chose the head of the Tigers clan. Total Russian officers made 13 scientific expeditions to Chaco.

And most importantly - they deserved the sympathy of the Indians, which played an important role for Paraguay several years later when it was subjected to aggression from Bolivia.

Paraguay-Bolivian standoff

The war between the two states was raging from 1932 to 1935 and turned out to be the most violent in the 20th century in Latin America.

The cause of the confrontation was just the Chaco region, which accounts for 60 percent of the territory of Paraguay. Why did these sparsely populated and impassable jungles become an apple of discord between the two countries? At the end of 20's, it was suggested that there were rich deposits of oil in the Chaco. Looking ahead, we note that this was not confirmed. In addition, the capture of Chaco opened Bolivia access to the Atlantic Ocean through the Paraguay River.

On the eve of the war, many were confident in the victory of the Bolivians. La Paz was provided with diplomatic support by the United States, interested in controlling the transportation of oil from Chaco. Bolivia exceeded Paraguay by 3,5 times in terms of population and by the same in size of the military budget. She also had a large number of aircraft and was armed Tanksabsent from the enemy.

But the Bolivians saw their key advantage over the Paraguayans in another - at the head of their army was the German command in the person of General Hans Kundt, relying on the help of 120 German officers. They were supplemented by mercenaries - mainly Chileans and the same Germans, among whom was the future well-known leader of the fascist attack aircraft E. Rem.

Behind Kundt, like many of his countrymen in the Bolivian army, is the Military Academy of the German General Staff. Kundt himself had the experience of the First World War, in the fields of which he was an associate of the famous Field Marshal von Mackensen. The Bolivian General Staff was headed by another German General von Klug.

At first, Paraguay contrasted this 50 with thousands of Indian-armed machetes and three thousand Russian volunteers who decided: “Almost 12 years ago, we lost our beloved Russia occupied by the Bolsheviks. Today, Paraguay is a country that sheltered us with love and it is going through hard times. So what are we waiting for, gentlemen? This is our second homeland and it needs our help. After all, we are military officers! ”.

One of Belyaev’s comrades was Major General Nikolai Frantsevich Ern, the last in the imperial army, produced at that rank by Nicholas II. In Paraguay, Ern served as a teacher at the Military Academy. Belyaev himself became the head of the Paraguayan General Staff at the beginning of the war. Of the three Russian officers - the chiefs of staff of the armies, one led the division, 12 commanded the regiments. In addition, two Russian battalions were formed. All our compatriots who entered the Paraguayan army accepted the citizenship of the new Homeland.

The main purpose of his offensive, von Kundt, saw the fort of Nanawa, the seizure of which allowed the Bolivians to cut off enemy communications and literally with one blow to take him out of the war.

From a strategic point of view, the German commander, of course, made the right decision, however, the tactics he chose were too straightforward and, as subsequent events showed, became fatal for the Bolivian army. In the direction of the main attack, von Kundt created a twofold superiority over the enemy and considered it sufficient to win, throwing his troops backed aviation and two Vickers tanks with German crews, in frontal attacks, which did not bring them success, but turned into enormous losses.

Yes, and the aircraft in the jungle was ineffective, as well as tanks, stuck in the swamps and constantly breaking down due to improper operation.

But the main reason for the failure of the operation developed by Kundt is otherwise. The defense of Nanava was led by Belyaev and Ern. They ordered the creation of false gun emplacements - palm trunks disguised as artillery pieces, which were bombed by Bolivian airplanes. Thanks to the Russian generals and their compatriots who helped them, the Paraguayan positions were perfectly equipped in engineering terms: barbed wire and minefields covered their approaches. Coupled with the jungle, this became an insurmountable obstacle for Bolivian soldiers, many of whom are residents of the high plateaus, who are not used to either the local climate or the landscape.

It must be said that Belyaev, in the middle of the 20-s, visited the area of ​​Nanawa and perfectly studied the area around this settlement. Even then, knowing the tensions of the Bolivian-Paraguayan relations, Ivan Timofeevich considered the possibility of striking in this particular direction.

He helped Belyaev and his front-line experience: in 1915, he fought with the Germans in the Carpathians - rough and wooded areas. In addition, the Russian general successfully used the tactics of sabotage detachments made up mainly of Indians, as we recall, who knew and respected our compatriot well since his scientific expeditions to Chaco.

These units acted on enemy communications, making it difficult for the troops deployed at the front line. By the way, we note that the substantial numerical and technical advantage of the Bolivians was negated by their isolation from the rear bases by about 300 kilometers. And this is in the absence of rail transport and impassable jungle.

Ten days of fighting turned for the 248 Paraguayans killed, the Bolivians lost two thousand people. Such low losses for the Paraguayans are a direct consequence of the tactics chosen by Belyaev, as well as the competent methods of training Paraguayan soldiers, under the guidance of Russian officers, who quickly became real professionals. As well as the enormous sacrifices of the Bolivians are the result of the viciousness of Kundt’s straightforward actions.

Soon in La Paz they realized that the operations undertaken by the praised German commander would lead the Bolivian army only to an inglorious death, and a year after the outbreak of hostilities he was dismissed.

This did not save the country from defeat, for the Bolivian generals could, even less than the Germans, effectively resist the operations developed by Belyaev and his Russian officers. By 1935, the fighting was moved to the territory of Bolivia, whose army was on the verge of collapse and in fact lost its combat capability.

Ultimately, the parties signed peace. Paraguay defended territorial integrity and sovereignty. Bolivia’s minor acquisitions did not cost either the blood of its soldiers or the hardships of civilians.

After the war

What was the fate of Belyaev himself and his Russian allies after the war? Ivan Timofeevich in 1937 left military service and gave all his strength to the education of the Indians, creating the first American Indian theater in America. At the same time, he was a consultant to the Ministry of Defense of Paraguay. He died a general in 1957-m, buried with full military honors. The country has declared a three-day national mourning. On the island in the middle of the Paraguay River, even today one can see the grave of the general, on the gravestone of which there is an inscription in the Suvorov style: "Belyaev lies here."

Nikolai Frantsevich Ern received the rank of Lieutenant General of the Paraguayan Army, after the war he served in the General Staff. Ern lived a longer life: he died in 1972, at the age of 92. The funeral took place in the presence of the highest ranks of the Paraguayan army with the participation of the presidential guard. Officers of the Asuncion garrison in their hands carried the coffin to the grave.

Without exaggeration, it can be said that in no country in the world did they treat Russian immigrants so warmly and with sincere respect as in this small and hospitable Latin American country. In honor of our compatriots called the streets and settlements. To this day in Paraguay, you can meet the streets, for example, Colonel Butlerov, Captain Blinov, engineer Krivoshein, Professor Sispanova. In the country, a church was built in honor of the Most Holy Theotokos, and a cemetery appeared, like Saint-Genevieve-des-Bois, “Sacred Field”.

Not least thanks to the Russian emigrants who, after their victory over the Bolivians, played a significant role in the life of Paraguay, he was the only country in the world that did not recognize the communist regime in Russia. This is the merit of General Alfredo Stroessner, who ruled the country from 1954 to 1989, the irony of a descendant of German immigrants.

In the Chak war, being a young lieutenant, Stroessner fought side by side with Russian officers, and then served for a long time under their command. For the rest of his life, he retained respect for them and took from them uncompromising anti-communist convictions. The Paraguayan ruler easily met with his military comrades from distant Russia and always tried to personally escort each of them to the last journey.

And the Russian Center center created by Belyaev (it still exists in Paraguay), as well as the descendants of our emigrant compatriots, still plays a significant role in the cultural, political and scientific life of the country.

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  1. Tirpitz
    Tirpitz 26 October 2012 09: 43
    Wonderful article. I did not even suspect about this. And the imperial officers honor and praise.
  2. vic011
    vic011 26 October 2012 10: 23
    For whom we just did not fight. Take the same Americans, it was we who refused the United Kingdom to help introduce troops into the United States, but we refused and wished for US independence. And then what? The Cold War, which almost turned into a nuclear war. We help everyone, but there is practically no response.
  3. JonnyT
    JonnyT 26 October 2012 10: 48
    I am glad that there are countries in the world in which Russians are treated with respect and honors! Only thanks to a good upbringing in the spirit of love for the Motherland, fidelity to traditions and good education, such wonderful people appear! God grant that there were more such people on our planet!
  4. Lucky
    Lucky 26 October 2012 11: 37
    Yes, the article is very good, there is nothing to add honor and praise to the Russian soldier !!!
    We're the best!)))
  5. hohryakov066
    hohryakov066 26 October 2012 12: 09
    In a small village in Argentina, there is a monument to the heroes of the war with the Melkobrittes over the Malvinas Islands. It depicts four soldiers - children of Russian emigrants who fought for Argentina. The meaning of the inscription on the monument is such that if everyone fought like that, then the British Isles would remain behind Argentina.
    CARBON 26 October 2012 12: 19
    Thanks for the article. Recently I was looking for something to read about the Chuck war.
  7. wulf66
    wulf66 26 October 2012 13: 15
    Once again, I am convinced how much we lost in the 17th prison ... In my opinion, it is much easier to survive the reign of a negligent emperor than the dictatorship of the freaks who came to power in blood.
    1. Karlsonn
      Karlsonn 26 October 2012 14: 32
      French crunch nostalgia?
      Thank you very much for the article.
    2. dmb
      dmb 26 October 2012 19: 17
      Are you talking about the current ones?
  8. Order
    Order 26 October 2012 17: 40
    The essence of Russian immigrants in Paraguay is really very interesting and unique. I read about this a very long time. I would like to add such an interesting fact that under the dictatorship of General (and later Generalissimo) Alfredo Stroessner, who was not a fig not white and fluffy, by the way was friends with Pinachet and chased his left opposition in the tail and mane, there was a non-class order of the dictator of Russian immigrants Do not repress in honor of their past merits.
  9. Megatron
    Megatron 26 October 2012 18: 10
    Paraguay Flag - Gold Star Vietnamese Balm? ))))
  10. Fox
    Fox 26 October 2012 18: 26
    and kick the Communists, this is such a chip!
  11. Nagaibak
    Nagaibak 26 October 2012 19: 55
    The interest is that the Germans opposed the Russians. German officers also remained unclaimed in their country. And clashed with the Russians already in South America !!!
  12. bart74
    bart74 18 November 2012 04: 05
    This is a little-known story for Russians when whole South American cities, streets, and settlements were called by the names of our ancestors, when we beat to the nines other military doctrines (including Deutschen-Weisten), and indeed they beat! without the support of the United States, and in fact they became national heroes!
  13. bart74
    bart74 19 November 2012 01: 39
    Paraguay with Bolivia ?! Didn't even bother to read the article. Yes, I'm proud of our, by the way, "White Guards". Whole settlements and cities are named after our compatriots! Then we gave a light to both the Germans and the US! Glory to the Russian General Staff!