Five-Year Plans

Stalin's Russia

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Ideological causes of the First Five-Year Plan

  • Believed that socialism was only possible in a highly-advanced industrialised nation
  • Communist revolution took place in an economically backward country
  • Russia was around 100 years behind western advanced economy
  • Set the agenda - 'in ten years at most we must make good the distance which separates us from the advanced capitalist countries'
  • Believed that revolution should serve working class
  • Peasants had prospered whilst working conditions slowly improved under the NEP - Stalin aimed to change this
  • Wanted to replace 'burgious specialists' with 'red specialists'
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Economical causes of the First Five-Year Plan

  • Response to failure of the NEP
  • NEP could only industrialise country at a 'snail's pace'
  • Amount of materials produced during NEP years were never more than produced during Tsarism
  • Improvements in production still left Russia behind Germany and France
  • New approach was needed
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Political causes of the First Five-Year Plan

  • Belief of 'crash industrialisation' was inspired by collectivisation successes
  • Evidence that Stalin was no longer content as Lenin's pupil
  • Wanted reputation that surpassed Lenin
  • Gave speech on Lenin's mistakes
  • 'Russia of the NEP' was over and 'Stalin's Russia' was beginning 
  • Concerned that Russia was unable to defend itself in a war
  • Decided that Russia would need to mass-develop iron, steel, oil and coal industries on a very large scale because they were vital for war
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Priorities and rationales of the Second Five-Year

  • Improvement in living standards for workers - poor living standards were having poor effects on health
  • Grow industries even more - develop new materials 
  • Set high labour performance expectations - officials realised that labour productivity was low
  • More conciliatory approach to peasants - there was a threat of war and Russia needed all support
  • Diverted production funds - threat of war
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Priorities and rationales of the Third Five-Year P

  • Increase of military goods - preparation for war
  • Discipline labour workers - increase production rates
  • Restricted workers in changing jobs - workers were constantly changing jobs for better conditions and pay
  • Limited amount of time peasants were to spend on private land - government wanted to regain control over peasants
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Successes, failures and priorities of the First Fi


  • Production increase in iron, steel, coal and oil
  • Peasants moved to cities
  • Economy grew by 14% per year
  • Education was more reformed and accessible


  • Never met targets
  • 'Command economy'
  • Demoted or sacked those who failed to meet targets
  • Unrealistic and impossible in many ways


  • Increase production
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Successes, failures and priorities of the Second F


  • Increased production pace
  • Raw material production expanded
  • Transport improved
  • Rationing ended
  • Peasants were given small land plots for private farming
  • Russia recovered from famine


  • No improvement in living standards
  • Resources in short supply
  • Low quality goods were relied on
  • Housing shortages and issues
  • Social inequalities


  • Improve workers' living standards
  • Grow industries
  • Set high labour performance expectations
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Successes, failures and priorities of the Third Fi


  • Peasants promoted to admin and management posts
  • Living conditions improved
  • Russia became more powerful


  • Many industrial managers were removed and executed
  • Moderates who offered creative solutions to issues were removed
  • Labour productivity did not increase
  • Workers were not motivated


  • Increase production of military goods
  • Discipline workers
  • Restrict workers in changing jobs
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How was education reformed to aid Russia's economi

  • Children and young people were encouraged to challenge authorities of parents and teachers
  • Parents were expected to teach children to respect the Soviet government
  • New curriculum was introduced with a series of textbooks
  • Core subjects were set out
  • Homework was to be set regularly
  • National examinations were brought in
  • Discipline was designed to prepare children for regulation of workplace under Five-Year Plans
  • Teaching and learning in Russia were influenced by Five-Year Plan methods
  • State spending on education was reduced to free up resources for Five-Year Plans
  • Communist Party and trade unions offered grants and scholarships
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Evidence that women had greater opportunities in S

  • Women were entering the workforce
  • Number of women employed in industry grew rapidly
  • Women made up almost half a workforce in some places
  • Soviet authorities recognised important contribution from women
  • 80% of farm workers were women 
  • Women were represented in countryside Stakhanovite movement 
  • Most celebrated Stakhanovites were women - Pasha Angelina was recognised as the organiser of the First Women's Tractor Brigade and Maria Demchanko pledged to harvest four times average sugar beet yield
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Evidence that women had limited opportunities in S

  • Zhenotdel was closed down in the 1930s
  • Communist Party paid little attention to role of women on assumption that men and women were equal
  • Traditional gender roles were reasserted
  • Women were paid less than men
  • Women were sentenced to two years in jail for having an abortion
  • Women who had abortions that were not to save their lives were considered 'undeserving'
  • Women were still expected to be responsible for household chores and childcare
  • Wives of Party officials were expected to manage a 'well-ordered Communist home' and not work
  • Female Party members were encouraged to do their duties at home
  • Wives of Party officials were expected to be part of 'wife activist movement' 
  • Members of the movement were expected to be 'ideal mothers'
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Family and relationships under Stalin

  • The 'Great Retreat' was the term used to describe the mid-1930s where gender roles and sexual attitudes were re-implemented
  • Family policy was promoted using Soviet propaganda by publicising Stalin's faithfullness to his family - he visited his mother and showed faithfulness to his wife who committed suicide - this was in hope that the people of Russia would follow his example
  • Soviet authorities seeked to promote marriage because they saw it as highly important, especially within the party - it was considered to be 'glamorous' and gained married couples and their families various bonuses
  • Marriage was encouraged by introducing marriage certificates and wedding rings 
  • Married Party members were given perks such as spacious accommodation, their own holiday homes and opportunities to take their families to Party holiday resorts
  • Divorce was discouraged by making the cost very high and failing to meet divorce laws resulted in two years' imprisonment
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