How valid is this judgement? There are many reasons why Stalin wanted to industrialise Russia so quickly. Stalin who came to power after Lenin was determined to make Russia a successful country by rapid industrialisation. Rather than borrowing money from other countries in order to help Russia, Stalin wanted Russia to do it on its own accord and let the Russian people earn what they got. It was the five-year plans that moved Russia towards becoming a stronger country than it was. Although it may just be seen as a glory hunting phase to make Russia an economic power, it was said by Stalin that, ‘We are 50 to 100 years being the advanced countries. We must make good this distance in 10 years. Either we do it or we shall be crushed.’
And Stalin was very right in saying this. Stalin embarked on these five-year plans because he did not want his home country to fail and fall to many of the Western countries and ideas that threatened it. He launched three Five Year Plans, the first ran from 1928 – 1932, the second ran from 1933 – 1937 and the third plan ran from 1938 till 1941. Hotmail password: rupermaya For each Five Year Plan there was an emphasis on what had to be achieved. The first plan wanted to equip Russia industrially for the second and third plans. It’s emphasis was on heavy industry, controlled by a sate-owned and state-directed economy, therefore private trades and businesses were swept away. The emphasis of the second plan was to create better living standards, such as communication, and living aspects. Moscow Metro was built, industrial buildings such as the Magnitogorsk. The final plan was mainly cantered around going to war with Germany. He launched these Five Year Plans for a number of reasons.
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One of the reasons why Stalin launched the Five Year Plans and why he wanted to industrialise Russia was to increase military strength. Stalin knew that if a country wasn’t industrialised it would be a weak country therefore he had a fear of foreign invasion. Russia in the 1920’s was a backward country compared to other countries such as France, Britain, US and Japan. Stalin knew that countries such as France who were producing more coal and steel and thus if there was an attack on Russia from the leading powers, Russia would need a much more powerful industrial base to manufacture the huge quantities of weapons and munitions needed to fight a war. This proved to be true in 1927 when a series of events were seen as evidence of an impending attack on the Soviet Union. In different parts of the world there was many attacks. In 1927 there was a raid by the British government on the Soviet trade mission in London; in China, communists were attacked by the Kuomintang forces of Chiang Kai Shek, also a Soviet diplomat was assassinated in Poland.
All of these events brought fear into the mind of Stalin that Russia would be attacked upon. As the government believed this was a sign of anti – Russian conspiracy. Therefore one of the main reasons why he wanted to develop industry so quickly was to have a strong industry capable of producing armaments so that Russia could defend itself from attack and be on the same level as world heavyweights. He needed to industrialise to complete his cry for ‘Socialism in One Country’. Also, as the Wall Street crash had led to the rise of the anti-communist Hitler in Germany, Stalin very much needed to prepare Russia for what was to come. He needed to industrialise and be ready for whatever the West had to throw at him and Russia.
Trade with the rest of the world declined since Russia was under the communist revolution. Some people did think that Stalin was not a true communist as he brought many western ideas into Russia in terms of industry and farming, however it was these ideas that lead to Russia becoming stronger. He relied heavily on manufactured western goods, this had to change and Stalin knew it they had to become self-sufficient. Stalin knew an industrial base was needed to produce goods to their people, to become self-sufficient. By raising Russia’s economic and political power, he could gain ground on the rest of the world and try and spread communist ideas everywhere. This would make Stalin seem very bold and true communist at heart and would make people see him as though he had gone where other communists had never gone before. In this way, the five year plans did being glory to Stalin and made him seem a visionary in the ways of communism.
If Stalin made Russia an economic power in the world, he would counter act many of problems that hampered Russia from the beginning. If Russia’s economy was raised, not only would it prove to the world that communism really does work, it would allow Russia to stand up against surrounding threats like Poland, Japan, France, Britain and the US and it would also show that Russia did not need other countries’ help to come into its own. A strong economy would also ensure provide a strong power base for Stalin, which would help to ensure his remaining in power. As many countries from the West were threatening Russia, Stalin needed to prepare Russia for war if it was to come to that.
According to Marxist theoreticians, socialism could only be created in a highly industrialised state where the overwhelming majority of the population were workers. In 1928, only about twenty per cent of the population of the USSR were workers. Stalin followed Lenin’s belief that the USSR should overtake and outstrip the capitalist countries. He believed in ‘Socialism in one country’ -the USSR would become strong enough to survive, then would take over the rest of the world. To get votes before he became elected Stalin used propaganda to portray an image of himself into the minds of the public. The most extreme way he did this was to show himself as a disciple of Lenin as he was seen as a god of communism at that time. He edited pictures of Lenin and other people and stuck his face on instead so it would seem like he was very close to Lenin. Stalin needed to prove to himself and other leading Bolsheviks that he was the successor and equal of Lenin. His economic policies were central to this.
The economic transformation of the USSR, taking the revolution forward in a giant lap towards socialism, would establish him as a leader of historic importance. Soon after Lenin’s death in 1924, the slogan ‘Stalin is the Lenin of today’ became widely used by sections of the rank and file party members. His popularity was built up through propaganda, which presented endless images of Stalin as a great leader. A massive picture of Stalin was hung on every station so that the Russian people would not forget what he had achieved through the Five Year Plans. Stalin was the big hero or Vozhd (the boss). In all his propaganda posters, Stalin is shown to be friendly to all peoples of the world and of Russia. He might be shown giving speeches to the workers or he might be shown embracing children in his arms. This gave the people of Russia a ‘father figure’ to look up to and admire. If all they had done before was to be ignored by their government and officials, they could relate to Stalin and it would make them think that Stalin likes us and that anything was possible.
Another stunt he pulled in order to get himself elected was to tell Trotsky, the opposition, not to go to Lenin’s funeral as Trotsky was ill. He used propaganda once again to preach the public that industrialisation was patriotic, this encouraged workers to work for their motherland and to help their motherland to come up through the ranks and be part of the industrialisation process. Stalin removed Trotsky, the Left party the Right Party were in the stronger position however they could be removed due to the NEP. When the Five Year Plans were launched it saw the removal of all the major leaders in the Right Party, this increased Stalin’s power and strengthened his own personal power as he was the undisputed leader of USSR. I believe Stalin removed all the inspirational leaders because of his own personal glory. In 1928 Stalin had said, “Agriculture is developing slowly, comrades. This is because we have about 25 million individually owned farms.
They are the most primitive and undeveloped form of economy. We must do our utmost to develop large farms and to convert them into grain factories for the country organised on a modern scientific basis”. Such rapid industrialisation could only be achieved if agriculture was made more efficient, as sufficient food had to be produced to feed the workforce. USSR was a backward peasant-based economy. Stalin wanted to end this dependency on the backward agricultural system. This was where collectivisation came in. Collectivisation was implemented in 1928 and was initially on a purely voluntary basis- at a moderate and achievable pace. In practice this wasn’t the case. In a bid to increase collective membership, peasants were granted incentives to join the collectives in 1930. Stalin introduced the machine tractor station in Russia, where collectives could borrow machinery and increase their productivity in return for payment in the form of crops. Collectivisation consisted of grouping small, scattered farms in a given locality into a collective farm (Kolkhozy).
The peasants would hand over their grain, animals, tools and labour for the utility of the entire community. The collectives had to sell most of their produce at low prices to the government. In 1929 Stalin took serious austere action, speeding up the process and making it compulsory to join collectives. Some Peasants were refusing to share their labour, whilst others took to burning their crops and animals rather than sell them to the state. As a consequence, Stalin applied force and those who did not comply were dealt with severely. This coincided with Stalin’s elimination of the Kulaks, a rich class of peasants and a contradiction of basic communist beliefs of equality. He ordered them to hand over their land, homes and property to the government to be distributed amongst collectives. The Kulaks were not permitted to join the collectives and were instead sent to labour camps or executed. Most Kulaks resisted and destroyed their property, machinery, crops and animals so that the government would not be able to use it, spreading negativity not only amongst the farm workers but also for Stalin and the Bolsheviks.
Stalin wanted to create a better society, pay was minimal, and barely enough to make ends meet for the average worker, and consumer goods were not being produced besides. Working conditions were perilous and hours long. However the workers continued to exert themselves labouring for several reasons. The younger generation of workers still held ideals of the Promised Land and of a better society, even if it meant a few years of hardship. Bonuses were awarded to the most efficient workers, who were referred to as Stakhanovites. This name derived from the most famous worker in Russia, Alexei Stakhanov who was said to have mined 102 tonnes of coal in just one shift. This was fourteen times the amount expected from one person and according to Stalin if Stakhanov could achieve this so could others. The west was ahead of the soviet in terms of living standards, therefore industrialising the USSR was creating wealth for a society.
USSR would be led by its people therefore if Communism was to survive the people had to be treated right, this meant that the people should live a happy life and opportunities had to be given to them. Also I believe if he wanted to spread Communism around the world, he wanted to show to the people of world how working people are treated and what the country has to offer. In conclusion Stalin wanted the best for Russia but didn’t care what costs his people had to pay to get there. However I believe he industrialised for Russia’s glory and not for him. Stalin was content in gaining Russia global status as an industrialised nation. Stalin wanted to provide a better future for Russia, and wanted to pull Russia out of poverty into a ‘super’ modernised country.
2) Even though the Five Year Plans did bring glory to Stalin many other achievements were made as Russia strengthened as a country as it moved into the 21st century. Oil production was increased by 3 times, coal and steel production went up by 4 times the amount, all peasants in Russia were tutored and became literate and good with numbers, almost all areas of Russian industry was increased by some amount and farmers were given tractors and other heavy machinery to help them produce crops. The Five Year Plans did help to create a modernised and developed country, also a country that relied and was backed on upon Communist views. Russia flourished under Communism. I legitimately believe that Russia would have been under a government rule if it hadn’t been for the peasant’s admiration of Communism.
Industrialisation was another key aim of Stalin. To industrialise Russia, he put into place two 5-year plans, 1928-33 and 1932-1937. Without industrialisation Russia wouldn’t have any stability and the backbone of the revolution relied upon the industrial workers known as the Proletariat. Kulaks opposed Communism; however they were the minority among peasants, and were really a propaganda myth created by Stalin to enable him to justify his attacks on the peasants. The Five Year Plans did well to remove enemies of Communism such as the Kulaks, NEP and the Nepmen. So that the ‘old system’ could be swept away and the Communists don’t get bad reflection upon its own public, ‘bourgeois experts’ were crushed as they were reminders of the ‘old system’.
A new Socialist community was created due to the introduction of Collectivisation, rapid Industrialisation and other new rules and systems which was laid down by the Five Year Plans. The introduction of these new rules and systems from the Five Year Plans removed the villains of the old system including the peasants and the capitalists. This impressed the Bolsheviks and thus reassuring Stalin’s power and position within the party. He had four key reasons for this. Firstly, many regions of the USSR were backward. Stalin said that to be backward was to be defeated and enslaved. He feared the West, and wanted to protect himself and Russia. He declared that Russia was fifty years behind the West, and either, “we (Russia) make good the difference in 10 years or they crush us’. Stalin gained power over the workers, due to the Industrialisation scheme. The sate gave a specific amount to the factory managers of how much goods were to be produced.
The workers had to achieve targets, to achieve these they had to work in, live in disastrous conditions. ‘Saboteurs’ or ‘wreckers’ were the names given to the people were weren’t producing enough or hampering with the machinery, this was due to lack of skills. These people were put on trial as they thought they had a plan against the Communist regime. The Five-Year Plans really did make Russia a much stronger country. Not only did the Five-Year Pans allow its economy to raise and allow the people of Russia to have their own money, but it showed the public what they could do if they were put in the right direction and put all their heart into it. In 1928-1932 the first Five Year Plan was brought into action. The main aim for this Plan was to boost the country’s industry therefore it can fuel the second and third Five -Year Plans.
As a result more factories were built and factory parts such as turbines were built and were prioritised. This played a part in doubling the coal and iron production, trebling the electricity production and also steel production rose by a third. Between 1921 and 1937 coal, oil and steel production all rose by at least fifteen times. Coal from 5 million tonnes – 140 million tonnes. Oil from 2 million tonnes – 30 million tonnes. Steel from less than 1 million tonnes – 18 million tonnes. This was a vast improvement for Russia, it brought Russia up from being one of the most economically behind countries to the third in the world, Stalin deserved a lot of credit for doing this. Agriculture was very important in Russia, as food, corn, grain bought machines and materials need in the ‘new’ industrial Russia. With the growth in industry, more food was needed for workers in towns, and this was essential if the Five-Year Plans were to succeed. Collectivisation along with the new machinery revolutionised the countryside.
The 5-year plans were very useful propaganda, both for Communism and for Stalin. If Russia really could catch up within ten years it would provide a huge boost to communism. In order to achieve this, Gosplan drew up plans to maximise working output. Targets were set for every industry, each region, each mine and factory, each foreman and even every worker, and foreign experts and engineers were called in. The State Planning Authority, Gosplan were the ones who drew up the first Five Year Plans. The first plan mainly concentrated on improving the industry of the soviet as I have mentioned earlier. The first plan wanted to improve coal, steel, oil, and iron production. In 1929 prices of grain and raw materials were staggeringly low due to the Great Depression which led to the Wall Street Crash. This caused mayhem in economically developed countries such as Great Britain and other countries in poverty were hit hard. However Russia rose up to great heights and managed to make good achievements during the Great Depression.
The Second Five Year Plan mainly concentrated on communication. During the second plan coal production rose substantially. The chemical industry also made progress but the oil industry remained disappointing. One of the main achievements made was that Railways were built to link cities to industrial centres. It was known as the Moscow Metro, an underground train system. After the First 5-year plan revealed a shortage of workers, new crï¿½ches and day-care centres were built so that mothers could work also. There was also a concentration on heavy industry at the expense of consumer goods or good housing. Again, overall it was successful.
The USSR was successfully modernised, and there was genuine Communist enthusiasm generated among the young ‘Pioneers’. New purpose-built industrial cities were constructed. Magnitogorsk and Gorki were examples of massive new industrial complexes built during this period. Along with dams for hydro electric power, the Moscow Underground, and education and state benefit were also introduced. However, this was also at an appalling cost. Workers were sacked if late. Slave labour was often utilised, those who made mistakes were sent to labour camps, and there were a huge number of accidents and deaths. Over 100000 workers died building the Belomor Canal. There were few consumer goods, and the housing was poor. On top of this, wages actually fell. However, Stalin had actually succeeded in turning the USSR into a super power, and in a remarkably short time.
Propaganda at the time portrayed Stalin as being a saint showing him with young children made him look very patriotic and noble. The main aim was to show to the people of Russia that he was great man and associate him with the achievements that he made under his leadership. This was and still is a tactic that many people in the public eye use. I think that there are two ways in which you can see this propaganda campaign that Stalin embarked on; I think it could either be interpreted as a plain attempt to make people see Stalin as a great figure, but it could also be seen as a way to encourage workers and the Russian people to meet the targets of the five-year plan, to give them someone to look up to. I think personally, that Stalin was trying to raise his people’s morale and give them something to work towards.
During the second plan there were great increases in the electricity production, fertiliser production, for the first time, mining for copper, zinc and tin were undergone. Russia by 1937 was a developed country and was self-sufficient in metalworking, machine making country, there were substantial progress made in the production of energy, iron ore and metal industries. As the 1930’s progressed, the rise of Hitler in Germany changed the focus towards the needs of defence, which meant that heavy industry continues to receive priority, this was very necessary to create strong defences against Germany. The third Five Year Plan was mainly directed towards arms protection in order to meet the threat of Germany as Hitler had plans for Lebensraum and he was against Communism. The third plan only lasted for three and half years due to World War Two.
All resources were concentrated on war machinery as Russia concentrated on war against Germany. During the three years factories ran short of materials and oil therefore unable to make significant gains as the main achievement at that period was steel production. The achievements which Stalin made during the three Five Year Plans were achievable due to the leadership and his tactical presence on the Russian people. He challenged workers to work beyond normal expectations to achieve the goals set this included working in disastrous living and working conditions. Stalin embarked on the propaganda campaign, radio’s, newspaper and even the cinema played a part in the propaganda scheme, as films were shown about the good of Russia and how hard work from men can create great achievements, basically outlining the fact and portraying the message that anything is possible if you put your mind to it.
A very good example of how Stalin used propaganda to make workers work harder was the story of Alexei Stakhanov. It was said that this man, by himself, in one single shift mined 102 tonnes of coal from the mine he was working at. This was fourteen times the amount of coal a miner was expected to mine by himself in one shift. Of course, this story was a setup, but it worked incredibly well as propaganda. Many workers looked up to Stakhanov and worked harder than they ever had to try and earn the prestigious award of being named a Stakhanovite. With this title came better housing, free holidays and cash prizes. Any worker in their right mind would most definitely want to have these privileges for both themselves and their families.
However, some people did not like these Stakhanovites as they increased the amount of work each worker had to achieve in a day’s work. Although they could have complained, they most probably would have just been punished and the punishments enforced by the government were ones that workers wanted to avoid at all costs. Propaganda also gave the people of Russia a head figure to look up to and to give them an idea of what they could amount to. In all his propaganda posters, Stalin is shown to be friendly to all peoples of the world and of Russia. He might be shown giving speeches to the workers or he might be shown embracing children in his arms. This gave the people of Russia a ‘father figure’ to look up to and admire. Stalin altered history changed photographs and had misleading pictures to make them seem like the perfect leader.
As I mentioned workers and mangers received awards for hard work, however Stalin controlled the people using fear, he ran his own secret police, courts, and was able to sentence anyone who was against the Communist revolution. He sent people to labour camps, where they were treated as slaves, and working in harsh conditions. Overall Stalin improved the quality of life in Russia, new hospitals, new cinemas better education for the young. In conclusion, although the five-year plans did bring glory to Stalin, the fact that it inspired the Russian public to work harder than ever and the fact that the whole Russian economy was raised by quite a great deal proves that glory was not the only way in which it was seen. I think that the only real way to inspire a nation to work like they did during the five-year plans is to make someone a figure to look up to, to raise morale. In this case it was Stalin.
As Russia moves into the 21st century, material such as coal and iron rose dramatically. Collectivisation increased grain production, which could be used to buy machinery. Overall the Soviet Union made enormous economic progress; the Five Year Plans transformed the economy and the society of the Soviet Union. Russia was a success story, under the leadership of one man, Stalin. As the three Five Year Plans progressed from 1928 to 1941, Russia’s economic position changed dramatically. This change was good for some proportions and bad for others. The position that Russia were in wouldn’t have happen if it wasn’t for commitment, determination and a successful leadership. However I do believe that during Stalin’s reign and time in power the Five Year Plans, which improved the industrialisation of the USSR and made it a force in the world to be reckoned with. However, while the country was reaching for the objectives pointed out in the Five Year Plans the country was not only improving but was also causing misery to many of the Russian people.
Production targets which were high were met, as workers did overtime and were over worked by the managers. This caused stress for many workers and this wasn’t part of their normal life as they were used to a simple life before Russia was a communist country. The living and working conditions were disastrous as the Russian people faced tremendous adversity as the ‘new’ Russia came up through the ranks. However, the younger generation believed that working as hard as they were would benefit their children and generations to come. There were also many good occurrences that improved Russian living and the way, in which Russians worked and led their normal lives. It could be said that many Russian people began to feel as if they were finally being included in the government’s plans to run their country, as if they could really make a difference to how everyone lived.
In 1928 there was famine in the cities in which workers were not receiving enough food. Consequently, Stalin ordered that police squads were to make raids on the farms and made sure that the food in the cities was severely shared. However, over a short period Stalin found out that this measure was not sufficient. In 1929 Stalin declared that there was to be a more fundamental resolution to sort out the dilemma, this was called, collectivisation. Those who were against Collectivisation kept quiet due to fear of imprisonment. Also those who were against Collectivisation could do forced labour or be sentenced to death. The safety levels for the workers were extremely low especially with icy conditions; the pay was very low, work was miserable with strict employers and rules. Due to the state overtaking, the industrial workers could not argue about their treatment also no unions were permitted.
Collectivisation did cause misery to many peasants. Collectivisation meant that the end was near for the minor, conventional farms owned by the peasants. In each area they were to pool their fields, their horses and their tools, and work together on a kolkhoz, where a communal farm was appropriate for everyone to work on. Instead of making profits by selling their grain at the market, peasants would sell their grain to the government at a fixed low price and would only receive their wages for the work. Stalin intended all 100 million peasants to join collective farms. However, he realised that many of them would oppose his plans, so he began by dealing with the richest peasants first. These were the kulaks. In 1929 there were about 5 million people in kulak families. They were considered class enemies to the new Communist regime, this, unfortunately, meant many were killed, deported and sent to labour camps.
This process was known as Dekulakisation. The typical kulak family opened two or three horses and several cows, and had a larger than average farm but they also had other peasants that were hired by them to work for them in the harvest season. Stalin thought that the most likely people to oppose the collectivisation scheme was the kulaks because they had very much to lose. About 300,000 kulak families were transported from their homes and no appropriate engagements were made for them in the areas to which they were sent to. They frequently had to struggle for survival and by the end of it, about 25% of them died due to starvation, disease, ill-treatment and the cold. Soon into the year 1930 the government found that half the peasants in the USSR joined the collectivisation scheme. Nevertheless, the grain deficiency was not resolved and many of the peasants did not like the collectivisation scheme at all so killed many of the resources. Over the next couple of years, many millions of people died due to starvation because of the famine situation.
Not only were the workers in dangerous conditions with very low pay but there was extreme discipline. They were treated more like slaves than workers. Anything that went wrong was blamed on the workers. The Shakhty trial was an accusation of fifty-three workers who supposedly conspired to wreck the soviet coal-mining industry. In fact, the coal mines in the Donbass region had fallen behind target but the system could not be seen as a failure so workers were blamed. High discipline meant that if you were just twenty minutes late for work, you could be fined, lose your ration card or be sacked. Food was rationed to the workers and everyone got an equal share however some did suffer from malnutrition. Rationing was abolished in 1936, as the rationing of bread and meat was scrapped in 1935.
Consequently due to Industrialisation unemployment levels fell also some reports do suggest that the workers were satisfied with the working conditions. Unfortunately for workers, Stalin changed their working days by revealing that instead of working for five days and then closing at weekends, factories now worked all seven days of the week, with a fifth of the workers having their day off on any one day. To prevent workers from taking time off work, absenteeism was punished with the sack and with eviction from factory housing. Absenteeism was defined as more than one day’s absence without good reason. ‘Show trials’ was what workers were put on if they damaged the advanced technology that was given to them. The peasants mainly made mistakes as they were quite unskilled. The NKVD was Stalin’s secret police and was used by Stalin to crush any opponents of his policies.
In the Donbas mining region, many engineers were accused of disruption and a number of them were put on trial charges that were obviously made up. However, the real horror never took place until 1934 when Purges began to take place when Kirov, the leader of the Leningrad Communist Party was assassinated. Stalin cleverly used his intelligence to clear out all his opponents because of the murder. Many leading figures like Kamenev, Bukharin and Zinoviev were put on trial because they were traitors of the nation and additionally other non leading figures were put on trial like 500,00 party members on charges of anti Soviet activities and were either executed or sent to labour camps. Trotsky soon followed the list by getting executed by Stalin’s agents in Mexico. However, Stalin did not stop there he continued this Great Purge by removing 25,000 officers and many university lecturers and teachers, miners and engineers, factory managers and ordinary workers also disappeared.
By 1937 an approximate 18 million people were sent to labour camps while 10 million died and by doing this Stalin injured the USSR immeasurably. This allowed Hitler, the leader of Germany, to invade the USSR while it was very weak and powerless. In 1930 a special department of the secret police was set up, in order to run the labour camps and these were called Gulag. The first important work set up by the Gulag was a 500km canal from the White Sea to the Baltic Sea. Almost 300,000 prisoners were set to work on the Belomor Canal with promises that they would be set free when it was completed. The camps consisted of class enemies such as Kulaks, people who slacked off in work and saboteurs. Some of the worst labour camps were in the Kolyma region in the Northeast. The consistent -60 C and continuous polar nights kept the Kolyma in darkness in the winter.
The labour camps were responsible for a large proportion of the Russian workforce, they were forced, faced physical punishment and worked under fear of starvation to complete and perform tiring and laborious tasks which the entire Russian workforce had to cope with. The work consisted of digging and clearing foundations for building new sites, digging canals and also constructing sites such as the Magnitogorsk and the Dnieprostoi dam. Building these great industrial sites would have been hard work as they were built from scratch Stalin successfully invested into huge new tractor works that were built in Stalingrad, Kharkov and other places to meet the needs of mechanised agriculture. Also, gigantic modern industrial complexes were built for many of the USSR’s workers. Some industrial enterprises set up their own shops, bringing in food from farms, and the peasants supplied towns with milk, eggs, vegetables and meat from their private plots.
There were quite a few ways in which Russian life improved. All peasants in Russia were tutored and became literate and good with numbers, farmers were given tractors and other tools to help harvest their crop, almost everyone in Russia was given a job and successful workers were moved into a state of the art flats and houses making living a comfortable affair. Before the five-year plans, most of the Russian working class (peasants) could not read and had not been schooled. As Stalin introduced the five-year plans, every peasant in Russia was put into a program to help them become literate and good with numbers. This would have greatly improved life for these peasants, as it would have opened up new windows in terms of what they could achieve by themselves and without other people’s help. As farmers were given tractors and mechanised tools, they could harvest more crops, which would have meant that those farmers would be able to keep more crops themselves and would make more money from selling them.
During the 1930s living standards rose. As many people in Russia were moved into new houses and flats, their lives were greatly improved as it made them a lot more comfortable and they all had running water, heating etc. Even though there were shortages of consumer goods and food the Russia people were really optimistic with the new system and the ‘new’ Russia. Peasants, factory workers who had private plots got very good prices for their products. During the 1930’s there was an increase in doctors and clinics many peasants also fell ill and were forced to go to hospital and there was a strong opinion and movement in improving the health service. People who were willing to work hard could do well. Workers who stayed in one job and obeyed factory discipline received higher pay, better conditions and better housing. Members of the shock brigades received special privileges such as tickets to the opera, paid holidays and access to special shops.
The best workers, known as the Stakhanovites, were given medals and decorations in addition to better pay and housing and privileges. Stalin’s use of terror played a major role to make sure workers did what was asked of them. Stalin created a new constitution for the USSR, which gave freedom of speech and free elections to the Russian people. However, only the Communist party candidates were allowed to stand in elections, and only approved newspapers and magazines could be published. In addition, the drop in food production meant that the famine, which Stalin had feared, happened anyway. Stalin also let the USSR be invaded by Hitler as it was very weak at the time because Stalin used his powers to a bad affect by killing almost 18 million people and sending about 10 million people to labour camps. Nonetheless, many criminals were now being made to work so hard that it would stop other people from committing a crime.
However during his reign I personally believe that there were probably more things that brought miserly to the Russian people than there were to bring them comfort. Most of the things that brought comfort to the people had problems with them from the outset anyway, as many tools, such as tractors and the like were very difficult to operate and hardly anyone was trained in using them. Although almost everyone in Russia was employed, it was usually in very unsafe factories, construction sites or farms. Safety conditions were terrible and from all the factors covered above, I think that although the five-year plans brought quite a lot of glory and greatness to Russia, the people did suffer quite badly. Therefore to an extent, I do agree that Stalin ‘brought misery to his people’.
I think that the Five Year Plans were an excellent plan that was introduced by Stalin to the USSR; it made the USSR a more dominant country to be reckoned with and also made it a more secure place because hardly anybody was unemployed. I think that the five-year plans succeeded quite well on many fronts, but also failed on others. These plans did raise Russia’s economy quite a lot, gave Russia a new place in the world and they did, in a way, show that communism worked. They also showed that not all the leaders of Russia were complete idiots that did absolutely nothing for their country. The five-year plans showed that good leadership and powerful ideas were something that could come out of Russia and take the world by storm. This could be shown from World War Two.
As Hitler and his Nazi party hated the idea of communism, it was one of his plans to invade Russia. When they did attempt this, the Russian army, quite successfully, fought them off. Because of the five-year plans, many new industrial options were open to Russia, allowing them to build better weapons and most importantly, tanks. The Russian tanks of World War Two proved to be quite a formidable force, especially against the German army. The Five Year Plans created many amazing sites for the Russian people. There were many brilliant achievements including the colossal new industrial centres, which were constructed from nothing in Magnitogorsk and Kuznets. Stalin was very ingenious in planning that the cities were situated on the West of the country so that the West was less likely to get attacked by countries like China. In addition, extravagant projects were carried out to display the might of the new Soviet industrial machine.
This was the ‘Dnieprostroi Dam’ in the eastern USSR, which was for two years the world’s largest construction site, and it increased the Soviet electric power output, dramatically. The USSR’s industry was a competitor of that of the USA. A factor that did help this, though, was that while these plans were being carried out the USA was experiencing the Wall Street Crash. This made the USA’s industry suffer a lot and had their share of world manufacturing output decrease dramatically from 43% to 29% in the period of nine years and saw the USSR’s industry radically increase from 5% in 1929, when the Wall Street Crash took place, to 17% in 1938. Before the Great Depression, the USA’s industry had been a great deal higher than anybody else’s in the world and was nowhere near the same manufacturing output as the USSR. However, even though they were suffering seriously in the Great Depression there manufacturing output was still above that of the USSR’s.
The first Five-Year Plan increased production by improving efficiency in existing factories as well as developing new industrial plant. The Plans saw the successful completion of projects to provide power for the growth in the industry, an example like I mentioned was the ‘Dneiprostroi Dam’. The Five Year Plans developed the major cities such as Leningrad and Moscow. The coal and steel industries expanded rapidly in the early 1939’s when the second of the plans were introduced. The period 1928 to 1941 saw a fourfold increase in steel and a six-fold increase in coal production. Other projects included the ‘Moscow-Volga canal’ and the prominent ‘Moscow underground railway’. I think that the Five Year Plans were used extremely successfully for propaganda purposes where Stalin wanted to make the USSR an encouragement of socialism and industrialisation to other countries like Cuba and China who saw the USSR transform dramatically.
However, if you compare Russia after the five-year plans to the rest of the world, they were still quite far behind. Although its economy was raised a lot and many new ideas were open for use to the Russians, compared to countries like America, Britain and France, they were far behind. This was also very evident in the way the people of Russia were treated. If you look at Britain or France at that time, most people were treated very openly and had a ‘mind of their own’. In Russia, it was the government that controlled everything and the people were treated with little respect. The government didn’t really care about the health of the people; instead, they just made them work all the time.
One department where Stalin failed was the customer industry. The customer industry didn’t match the standards of heavy industry. Under the first Five Year Plan textile production declined, the main reason behind this was due to the collapse in livestock numbers caused by the introduction of collectivisation. The second and third Plans tries to restore and increase customer goods however due to the international tension, resources were redirected back towards heavy industry and armaments. Food production and food processing made significant increases, these productions started to have an impact on living standards.
I personally believe that the workers of Russia played a massive part in industrialising Russia and met the majority of the targets in the Five Year Plans. Unfortunately for the workers, economic progress was achieved due to the workers working in extremely harsh working conditions. The Plans called for the workers to devote all their energies to achieving the targets set under each Plan. The first Plan had to rely on revolutionary fervour to motivate a workforce that was largely unskilled. For example, in 1933 only 17% of the workforces in Moscow were skilled. This got even worse, as through the 1930’s the percentage of unskilled workers in the industry dropped considerably, this caused many problems in many areas. The command economy clearly had major weaknesses like the unlikely targets that were set which led to the use of bribery, corruption and crooked deals to achieve targets. At best, the economy was ill organised and badly coordinated, at worst it was chaotic.
There were inequities in the economy, with heavy industry taking priority over chemicals and transport and consumer goods being neglected throughout. The Russian people still spent a mammoth amount of their time queuing and went short of essential commodities. In conclusion, the Five Year Plans were actually very good as they made the USSR very dominant. Also, even though Stalin took many million’s of lives, the death toll for that period would have been higher if the Five Year Plans were not placed into action. I additionally think that when the USA had overcome the Great Depression its industry and economy would once again grow way beyond that of the USSR. Most of the five-year plan’s achievements were very industrial and mostly based on improving Russia as a country instead of Russia in terms of a place to live.
The Russian economy was brought up quite a lot, new ideas were opened to the government and Russia was looked at in a different way, but the people of Russia suffered a great deal. Working conditions were poor, most people were completely neglected and everyone was overworked to a great degree. So, in conclusion, I think that the five-year plans worked very well in terms of making Russia a more formidable opponent in wars or on the economic market, but I feel that they completely failed in terms of making Russia a better place to live for the Russian people and did not help many small businesses which could have probably helped Russia a great deal.