Joseph Stalin's Five Year Plan Research Paper

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To what extent can Stalin’s Five-Year Plans be considered a success? After his consolidation of power in 1928, Joseph Stalin sought to industrialize Russia and make her economy self-sufficient. In 1931 he declared, “We are 50 to 100 years behind the advanced countries. We must make good this distance in ten years” (Morris and Murphy, 2004). This was needed because he believed if they did not quickly catch up, these countries would destroy them. He planned to do this by implementing the Five Year Plans, which reorganized the country's economy, and develop heavy industry. Each of the three plans benefitted Russia’s need to grow economically, politically and militarily, but suffered socially. The First Five Year Plan sought to implement…show more content…
By the end of the first five-year plan, grain production was 32% below average and Stalin’s focus was still on heavy industry. As with the first plan, the emphasis fell on measures that strengthened the economic, political and militaristic elements of the state rather than social welfare [Rauch (pg. 220), 1972]. As more new industries built up across Russia, there was a greater need for communications industries, especially railways, to link cities and industrial centers together. With the amount of new workers in the industries, harsh laws punished those who were late or absent to work or didn’t meet company quotas. In some extreme cases these crimes were punished with execution. Managers were responsible for meeting targets and if they failed to do so they too could face death sentences. The focus on heavy industry and arms saw that workers lacked basic consumer goods such as clothes and shoes. The disregard for human well-being left the Soviet economy unbalanced, and once again they were behind their competitors in the West, who now had focuses on consumer based goods and services (Harris, 2013). Under the economic pressure, factories inflated their production figures, and the products created were of poor quality (Trueman, 2012). The drive for continued industrialization led to awful social conditions for the workers - there was no regard…show more content…
Due to the imminence of war, this plan had the sole focus of producing armaments. The need for consumer goods was again ignored – this time for spending on war preparations. Defense bending took one-third of the overall budget (Harris, 2013). Due to the rapid increase in industrial manufacturing produced by the two earlier plans (from 1928 to 1941 there was a 400% increase in steel and 600% increase coal), the country was able to defend herself against Nazi Germany in the brutalities of the "total war". Without mass industrialization, the Soviet victory in World War II would not have been possible. The military failures experienced in World War I under the Tsarist autocracy are attributed to poor mobilization of forces; this point of comparison epitomizes the effectiveness of this aspect of the plans. Stalin’s earlier prediction had come true, if Russia had not mobilized and rearmed to the extent that it did, the country would have faced mass destruction on a larger scale during the

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