Stalin's Five Year Plans


Organising the Five Year Plans

Gosplan- State planning agency. Given responsibility of drawing up plans and setting targets.

Difficult to plan for variable and changing commodities while states fought for resources. 

Ambitious Targets set. 

Failure to achieve a target was a criminial offence. 

Corruption and faulty reporting- falsified statistics, thousands of states employees dismissed.

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The First Five Year Plan 1928-1932

Approved by Sixteenth Party Congress in April 1929 but backdated to October 1928. 

Coal: 1927 (actual)- 35.4 mil tons

         1932 (target)- 75 mil tons

Oil: 1927 (actual)- 11.7 mil tons

       1932 (target)- 22 mil tons

Time of economic collapse in West after Wall Street Crash

Plan focused on developing 'Heavy Industries' 


  • Increase production 300%
  • Develop coal, steel, iron, oil and machinery
  • boost electricity production 600%
  • double output from light industry

Over-enthusiastic reporting, Stalin claimed goals met in four years. 

Some impressive growth: electricity output trebled, coal and iron output doubled and steel production increased by a third.  

Too few skilled workers and little coordination. 

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The Second Five Year Plan 1933-1937

More attention to consumer goods. Heavy industry still overall priority. 


  • Continue to develop heavy industry 
  • promote growth of light industries (chemicals, electricals and consumer goods)
  • develop communications and links between cities
  • foster engineering and tool-making

'The Good Years' 1934-1936 

Moscow Metro opened 1935

Volga Canal 1937

Dnieprostroi Dam produced hydro electric power 1932- largest dam in Europe

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Successes and failures of the Second Five Year Pla


  • Copper, zinc and tin mined for first time
  • Steel output trebled
  • Coal production doubled
  • 1937 USSR self-sufficient in metal goods and mahcine tools
  • 1936 greater focus on rearmament (4% to 17% of GDP in 1937)


  • Oil production failed to meet targets
  • No appreciable increas ein consumer goods
  • Emphasis on quantity over quality
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The Third Five Year Plan 1938-1942

Focus on defence sector due to Nazi threat, Disrupted by war in 1941.


  • Heavy industry (again)
  • promote rapid rearmament
  • complete transition to communism

Spending on rearmament doubled between 1938-1940

Steel production stagnated, oil failed to meet targets, causing a fuel crisis

Short of raw materials

Consumer goods lowest priority

Lack of good managers, specialists and technicians due to Stalin's purges. 

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Other Projects

Magnitogorsk- gigantic steel plant and town of 150000 people form nothing. Workers lived in barracks under posters of Stalin and Lenin, constant lectures and political discussions. 

Komsomolsk- shipyard in River Amur in East Russia. Built using volunteer labour from COmmunist youth organisation. Also used prison labour. Regional centre for industries such as ship building, oil reifning and metallurgy.

Moscow Metro 1935

Volga Canal 1937

The Turksib railway 1931

Dnieprostroi Dam 1932

Many workers travelled from the West to work on these projects

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