Success of the Five Year Plan?

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  • How successful were the Five Year Plans?
    • There is no doubt, despite the exaggerated figures that the Five Year Plans completely transformed the Soviet Union.
    • New industrial centres - like Magnitogorsk - were built from nothing. By 1938 it was producing 5,000 tons of steel a day. There was many other examples like this.
    • The fact that Russia was able to resist German invasion in 1941 - just - and then go on and capture Berlin is ample evidence of the success of the Five Year Plans.
    • There was problems - meeting the target became the priority so quantity became more important than quality.
    • There were projects that were wrong - the Belomor Canal was built at huge human cost but once opened was too shallow for the Navy ships it had been designed to handle - and there were projects that took much longer than expected to complete.
    • The successes were achieved at great cost in human suffering - living conditions lagged well behind developments in industry. Millions died, especially in the countryside.
    • A key debate amongst historians is whether the advances could have been achieved in a more humane way, or was Stalin right that the only way to modernise the Soviet Union was by force and terror?

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