How were the Five Year Plan's achieved?

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  • How were the Five Year Plan's achieved?
    • Forced labour from the Gulags played a large part in many projects. Most of Russia's gold was mined by convict labour, for example.
    • The most famous account of this type of labour is Solzhenitsyn's 'One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch'
    • By 1939 there was over 3 million people in Gulags, a vast and constantly replenished source of cheap labour! And totally expendable.
    • Much of the work was done by Kosomol volunteers, keen to make a contribution to Russia's 'Second Revolution'. Many suffered severe hardship in 'open-field' sites, in winter, building new factories.
    • There were even volunteers, and recruited specialist, from the West.
    • The West were partly attracted by the clever use of propaganda by the Soviet State, portraying Russia as a socialist paradise completely different from the West.
    • It wasn't just the peasants who suffered a drop in their standard of living - wages were kept low to create as much capital as possible.
    • In 1931 Stalin introduced pay differentials -  completely counter to Marx's view of each according to his needs.
      • By mid 1936 20% of workers were classified at Stakhanovites. Of course managers then used this to increase the norms for everybody.
    • These allowed Skilled workers and managers to earn up to four times as much as ordinary workers. This was justified by the need to industrialise quickly.
    • Stakhonovites - shock workers who exceeded daily norms - helped raise output. In 1935 Alexei Stakhahanov had cut 102 tons of coal in one single shift - 14 times the norm. If you exceeded your daily norm you got extra privileges and pay.
    • Stakhanov's record was soon broken by a worker who produced more than 300 tonnes.
    • There were a series of 'wreckers' trials throughout the period of the Five Year Plans. Managers who failed to reach their norms were accused of sabotage and sent to the Gulags. This was a powerful incentive target to reach targets/
    • These was a great increase in technical education in this period. There was an insatiable appetite for skilled, literate workers and managers.
    • Peasants from the countryside often found themselves operating quite sophisticated machinery with little or no tuition, and few instructions. Of course if the machine broke down they were accused of sabotage.


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