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