All the key points of the industrilisation of the USSR

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  • Russia - had small industrial base in 1914- couldn't compete with West
  • Aim: to strengthen country & ensure national security
  • Method:
    - Encourage industrial investments
    - Help privately owned industry
      (impose foreign import duties= reduces foreign competition)
  • Situation:
    - Industry and Agriculture= privately owned
    - Production dependent on supply and demand

(Above= The most significant differences from Stalinist economy)

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  • Industry:
    - grew at a quicker rate than agriculture
      (Russia= agricultural country- accounted for: 3/4 of employment
                                                                              1/2 of national income
  • Economy: dependent of Gov. support and foreign investment
  • State: encouraged heavy industry
  • Special agencies: regulated production & prices (economic planning)
                                   = inefficient!
  • Conditions: poor = discontent working class
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Soviet Economy: 1918-28

  • Post-civil War: devasted economy
                              Instigated NEP= some recovery- still weaknesses
  • Industrial Production= not sufficient to reach socialism
  • Russia:
    - No middle class = unlike west
                                 = State had to lead industrialisation

    - Weak infrastructure = lacking in experience and resources
                                      = weight of state needed for industrialisation

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Five Year Plans: Why?

  • To strengthen the economy: against hostile foreign powers
  •  Industrial transformation needed: for a socialist society
  • Communist Ideals: all wealth would belong to the people (not capitalists)

'The First Five Year Plans can be seen more as a propaganda device to drive socialist citizens forward and create a sense of urgency'

Sheila Fitzpatrick on the First Five year Plan:

A period in which the "spirit of the Cultural Revolution swept people along"

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Industrialisation: How? ... a difficult decision

Bukharin's strategy:

  • Invest in Agriculture
    =more grain = more grain exports= money for industrial machinery imports

Gov. Advisers:

  • Use existing state industry
    = Use money to: -Pay for more industry
                               - Make industry more efficient
    =Higher productivity = money for industrial investment
    (BUT... NEP heavy industry = inefficient- no surplus profits for investment)

1927-28: Shortage of grain deliveries= forced collectivisation & industrial planning

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Industrialisation: previous attempts

  • 1926-27: 
    - Kerch Metallurgical factory:factory construction costs 1928 = more than tripled
      = bad decisions were made = money was lost

Gov. needed scapegoats for such problems - manipulated by Stalin!

  • Shakty Trial, 1928
    - group of engineers (from coal mines) = accused of sabotage and treason
    - Central committee; "New forms & new methods of bourgeois counter-
       revolution against proletariat dictatorship industrialisation"
  • 'Bourgeois' specialists were replaced  by 'reliable communists' in the drive for industrialisation...
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Moving towards Industrialisation...


  • Criticised the NEP: "Some communists do not yet properly understand the
                                     technique of production and have yet to learn the art of
  • Called for the speeding up of industrialisation:
                                    - To provide technology for agriculture= increase efficiency

Sacrificing heavy industry for light industry would make the USSR an "offshoot of the world capitalist economic system"


  • State planning commision
  • Directed the drive for industrialisation
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Five Year Plans: A new concept...


  • Gov. determined: what to be produced & when
  • During a five year period
  • Plans replaced existing mechanism


  • October 1928 (backdated!)


  • Had insecure data and was overly ambitious
    (But was decided later that it should be completed in 4 years!)


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Industrialisation: A new concept... (cont.)

Communist state claimed to be:

  • "Representing ordinary people's interests rather than the interests of a privileged minority"

Class Warfare:

  • Became more and more forceful as industrialisation got under way


  • Suspicious of loyalty of party members
  • Highlighted class conflict as an important part of industrialisation= purging
  • Ignored any political advice- he was now leader


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Five Year Plans: In brief

The First: 1928-32:

  • Focused on the development of heavy industries (coal, steel etc.)

The Second: 1933-37:

  • Focused on consumer goods (but heavy industry remained the 1st priority)
  • Built on top of the first plan

The Third: 1938-41:

  • Focused on the needs of the defence sector (growing Nazi threat)
  • Disrupted by WWII in 1941

These plans formed the basic economic structure of the USSR & lasted until 1991





























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First Five Year Plan: Successes & Weaknesses (1928


  • Heavy industries ( accounted for 80% of total investment)


  • Electricity- production trebled
  • Coal & Iron - output doubled
  • Steel production - increase by 1/3
  • Engineering- developed
  • New industrial complexes -built (inc. new tractor works)


  • Decline in consumer industries/goods
  • Small workshops- gone
  • Chemical targets- not met
  • Lack of skilled workers
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Second Five Year Plan: Successes & Weaknesses (193


  • Communications -especially railways (Heavy industries still feautured strongly)


  • Heavy industries benefited from plants
  • Electricity production- expanded rapidly
  • By 1937- USSR= virtually self-sufficient in machine-making & metal-working
  • Transport/communications - grew rapidly
  • Chemical industries- growing
  • Metallurgy- developed


  • Consumer industries still lagged (showed small signs of recovery)
  • Oil production didn't meet expectations
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Third Five Year Plan: Successes & Weaknesses (1938


  • Heavy Industries- in particular ARMAMENTS


  • Heavy industries continued to grow
  • Defence and Armaments - grew rapidly (300% increase in production?)


  • Steel output- grew insignificantly
  • Oil production-failed
  • Consumer industries - took a backseat again
  • Factory shortages

Cut short by WWII

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First Five Year Plans: Problems

  • High targets put enormous strain on the economy
  • Materials in short supply - intense competition to get hold of them
  • Factories competed with each other
  • Bribery and Corruption rife- pulled strings to get resources
  • Managers made illegal deals to fulfil their targets - hijacked lorries etc
  • Planners had not invested enough in rolling stock
  • Underproduction in some parts of the economy (due to shortages)
  • Overproduction in other parts of economy
  • Great deal of wastage: - created parts other industries didn't want
                                   - output was sub-standard (lorry tyres lasted few weeks!)
  • Few managers admitted there was anything wrong - covered mistakes
  • Not all mistakes covered up - Stalin used this as political tool
    (Industrial equivalent of kulak= 'bourgeois specialist'- identified as sabateurs who deliberately cased hold-ups etc- believed to be anti-socialist by Party)
  • Consumer goods industries were sacrificed to the needs of heavy industries
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The Second Five Year Plan: Improvements

Second plan improvements:

  • Revised
  • Targets = scaled back
  • More consolidation
  • In greater detail/ more organised
  • Gave specific targets for enterprises
  • Gave estimates of costs, labour, prices etc.
  • Investment put into railway =  could carry more freight
  • New training schemes- encouraged worker to learn skills/techniques

'Three good years': 1934-36- achievements by 1937 = Impressive


  • Still shortages, wast and under/over-production issues (smaller scale though!)
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The Third Five Year Plan: The good and the bad

Post- 1937 = economic slump:

  • Iron & steel stopped growing
  • Oil industry failed = fuel crisis
  • Resources channelled into armaments= shortages elsewhere
  • Purges in full swing- economy deprived of valuable personnel
    - planners also purged =  chaotic system


  • By 1941, USSR had industrial base for a powerful arms industry
  • Plans allowed USSR to be victorious in WWII
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'Quicksand' Society

New workers:

  • Almost 1/2 labour force by the end of the 1st FYP = peasants
    - moved from countryside- bewildered and looking for work, lodgings, food
  • Phenomenal turnover of labour - average worker moved jobs 3 times p/a
  • Peasants often lacked disciplines of time-keeping and punctuality
  • Found it difficult to adapt to the monotony of machine-based work
  • High rate of absenteeism
  • Skills were a premium- many lacked ability to work machines properly
  • Managers: competed for skilled workers by offering higher wages/ perks
  • Estimated less than 7% of workforce were skilled
       = lots of machinery damage
       = poor quality of products
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Who? When? What?

  • Alexei Stakhanov - pneumatic pick operator
  • 10 o' clock - 30th August 1935
  • Began his special shift
  • After 5 hours, he had cut 102 tons of coal = 16 X average of around 6.5 tons

Why? How?

  • Idea of part organiser- Konstantin Petrov- at Central Ormino
  • Central Ormino lagged behind its quota- Petrov wanted to do something...
  • He knew Stakhanov was one of the best
  • Ideal Conditions were set up and haulier were on hand to take the coal away
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Next... The Stakhanovite Movement

Two hours later:

  • Petrov assembled a party committee- Stakhanov was acclaimed for his world record for productivity
  • Stakhanov received 200 roubles (normally 30), an apartment with a telephone and comfortable furniture, tickets for the cinema, performances and a holiday
  • His name was put on the mine's honour board 

The Result:

  • Sectional competition were set up- miners demanded the chance to beat the record (2 did by the 5th September) - the result the party wanted!
  •  Ordzhinikidze (commissar for Heavy industry) had Stakhanov, the 'Soviet Hercules' put on the front cover of Pravda. He said:
    "In our country, under socialism, heroes of labour must become the most famous" ...The term "Stakhanovite Movement wass used.
  • Stalin called for Stakhanovitism to spread "widely and deeply" across the entire Soviet Union.
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