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The Five Year Plans
From 1928, Stalin began to set up a command economy so that he could reorganise the Soviet Union and modernise industry. Stalin
thought that the Soviet Union was 100 years behind the west and he wanted to catch up, so that the Soviet Union could be strong and could
compete with the West.
Stalin distrusted the west as he knew that the USA, France and Great Britain had all intervened in the Russia Civil War and in 1934, Stalin
began to suspect that they were supporting Hitler.
Another reason for introducing the Five Year Plans was to destroy the NEP which was set up under Lenin
Stalin declared that private trade and working for someone else were both illegal and that anybody found doing this would be arrested.
GOSPLAN was set up, it was the state planning agency which worked out targets for the production of all kinds of goods in factories and
also what farms produced. It was based in Moscow and employed 500,000 people to monitor the effect of the five year plans.
Every factory in the Soviet Union was given targets for each five year plan and if they did not keep to them, the owner and the workers
would be punished.
Slave workers were sent to new industrial camps or cities that were set up beyond the Ural Mountains in Magnitogorsk and Chelyabinsk.
The workers were those who had been purged under Stalin.
Members from KOMOSOL (the young communist league) were sent every summer to construct these cities. About 250,000 went every
Those who had been purged were often sent to slave labour camps (Gulags) in Siberia, where they were worked to death in appalling
conditions. Many died from starvation or they simply froze to death.
Stalin created an elite group of workers, who were acknowledged for their tremendous hard work. They gained benefits from the state,
such as higher pay and better housing for their families. This group of workers were called `Stakhanovites' who were named after Alexei
Stakhanov who was a coal miner who was credited for digging more than 100 tonnes of coal in a shift when his target was only 13 tonnes.
Other miners and workers were encouraged to do this as well. This was a clever propaganda trick but Stakhanov was soon beaten by
another miner who dug more than 300 tonnes.
Absenteeism became a crime and anyone who did this was arrested and sent to a Gulag.
There were problems with the Five Year plans which caused them to not be a successful as Stalin had hoped.
The targets for the workers were ridiculously high and they took no account of the local conditions of the people.
Stalin was more worried about the quantity of products produced, rather than the quality of the products. This resulted in over 50% of the
tractors made in the first Five Year Plan not being able to work.
Managers in factories tried to adjust the figures of their production so that they did not get in trouble and were not purged. This means that
often the figures released by the government were incorrect.
Stalin allowed no criticism of the Five Year Plans and this created fear between the people.
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Conditions in the cities were very poor and disease spread very quickly. Also there was a shortage of food so people had little energy
Many peasants moved to the city and were uneducated and so they did not know how to use the machinery correctly. This meant that lots
of machinery broke down.
Changes in Farming
Stalin wanted to get rid of Kulaks who had profited from the NEP.…read more