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Kundt's Pocket at Campo Via, Dec. 1933 - The Chaco War

Updated on January 17, 2011
Paraguayan soldier
Paraguayan soldier
Bolivian bomber
Bolivian bomber
Bolivian fighter
Bolivian fighter
Bolivian Ju52
Bolivian Ju52
The battle of Camp Via
The battle of Camp Via
Chaco war battles
Chaco war battles
Paraguayan fighter
Paraguayan fighter

Vencer o Morir (to win or die) was the largest single battle of the Chaco War in December, 1933 at Campo Via. The forces under General Kundt, the Bolivian commander, consisted of the 9th, 4th, and 7th Divisions stretching from Arce to Nanawa (where the failed Bolivian tank attack had occurred in July). However, both the 9th and 4th Divisions were threadbare units, with the 4th barely escaping when the Paraguayan’s struck at Gondra earlier. Their combined strength came to only 7500 men. The 7th Division was in no better shape.

Known as the Battle of Campo Via, the Paraguayan’s had massed (with the knowledge of the Bolivians’ air reconnaissance units) twice as many of divisions aimed at the thinly defended lines and no Bolivian reserves. Just north of Alihuata, the Bolivian lines simply dangled. The warnings Kundt received from his own commanders along the front were all ignored. Fearing the worse, the Bolivian commander, Banzer, ordered part of his artillery, his tanks and ammo to be moved south to Saavedra. The battle began Dec. 3 and ended on the 12th.

This was the largest battle of the Chaco war. Its impact was akin to Russia’s Destruction of Germany’s Army Group Center in 1944. As it was for the Germans in 1944, it was for the German led Bolivian Army that had been shredded and forced them to retreat considerably. History often does repeat itself.


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    • perrya profile imageAUTHOR


      14 months ago

      Thanks for the good info.

    • profile image

      Rodrigo Rosa 

      14 months ago

      When the battle of Campo Via took place, Bolivia had 15 000 men in the South West portion of the Chaco, and Paraguay massed about 26 000 against them. But the operation was launched against the 10 000 that formed de 4th and 9th divisions; encircling around 8 000. Some regiments managed to escape the siegeand retreated to Saavedra.

      At the same time, Bolivia was forming a new army corpse at the north, with around 3 500 (divisions 3rd, 5th and 8th), and had reinforcements still on transit. That men power with the addition of thr elements from the 7th division and the escapees from Campo Via allowed to establish a new defensive line starting at Ballivian.

      Until then Bolivia faced serious logistics problems. Men were being supplied with 400gr of food per day and not always every day.

      There are several books regarding this battle, but the editios were low in numbers and only a few are known outside Bolivia and Paraguay.

    • perrya profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      Well, I disagree. It is an accurate account using the limited availability of the info on this little known event.

    • profile image

      Jorge Benavent 

      7 years ago

      It's a really brief explanation, but I have set a comment on it, because it's wrong. Specially the last three sentences. The comparison is almost absurd. Please check the main auhors' biblography on the subject (if you don't read Spanish, be careful about the sources you use; most of them are not very trustful, esp. in subjects like the present):

      The most complete Bolivian history of the Chaco War makes a quite different balance of the "so-called" battle of Campo Via:

      Luis Viedma Espínola, Valois Rivarola & Ceferino Vega: La Guerra del Chaco. La Paz, Impr. Militar, 1955.

      Be specially careful, for it's a fictionalized version of the Chaco War (but, as often happens, popular in the US and the rest of non-spanish-speaking countries): David Zook Jr., The conduct of the Chaco War.


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