Stalin's Five Year Plans 1928-41

Stalin's 5 Year Plans

1st, 2nd, 3rd


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  • Created on: 07-05-14 18:24

First Five Year Plan 1928-32

Gosplan's focus: heavy industry (coal, oil, iron, steel)

  • Produced raw materials needed for development and rearmament
  • Majority of Russian workers had little industrial experience, suited to uncomplicated tasks in heavy industry

Successes of Production and Social Mobility

  • Economic growth 14% per year
  • Production of Iron now 6.2 million tonnes compared to 3.3, steel5.9 compared to 4.0, coal 64.3 compared to 35.4, and oil 21.4 compared to 11.7. Almost doubled compared to NEP rates!
  • New city opportunities led to urban populations trebling in the 1930s
  • Promotions available to experienced workers over bourgeois specialists from the NEP. Bourgeois specialists were replaced by150,000 red specialists
  • Government invests in technical education, encouraging workers to attend courses at university
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First Five Year Plan 1928-32 (part 2)


  • Quantity over quality: the Gosplan's outrageous targets led to a focus on quantity of resources as opposed to quality, alongside managers and specialists lying about targets and production figures in order to keep their jobs. Much of what was produced was of such poor quality that it was useless.
  • Living Standards: Stalin introduced a 7 day working week and lengthened working hours. Lateness, striking, and breaking equipment were criminalised. Consumer goods such as shoeswere incredibly scarce, as the Gosplan prioritised heavy industry. New industrial towns such as Magnitogorsk were nothing more than huts with no sanitation or heating.
  • Black Market: An aim of the first five year plan was to abholish the free market and become a truly communist country. However, by not producing any consumer goods, a black market formed instead. People sold food, shoes, cigarettes, and vodka for extremely high prices.
  • Slave Labour: Most of the successes of the first five year plan depended on slave labour. Peasants who were arrested during dekulakisation were forced into Gulags (labour camps) and worked on industrial projects. For example, 40,000 prisioners worked to build Magnitogorsk.
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Second Five Year Plan 1933-38

Initially, the Second Five Year Plan tried to develop the economy in a more rounded way. It focused on electrification, transport, new industries, labour productivity, and consumer goods alongside heavy industry. Why?

  •  A faction of the Politburo known as the Kirov Group pressured Stalin to prioritise living standards and consumer goods in order to increase the Party's popularity. The availability of consumer goods from 1933-36 was described by the Russian people as 'The Three Good Years'.
  • During the first five year plan, large quantities of raw materials were produced but left unused due to lack of transportation.
  • The first five year plan had produced a generation of workers able to do complex industrial tasks.

In 1936, the priorities of the plan changed. Consumer goods were replaced by a priority to rearm. This was due to Germany's rearmament, suggesting war. Stalin was also able to change his priorities because Kirov and his followers (Kirov Group) had been killed in the Great Terror.

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Second Five Year Plan 1933-38 (part 2)


  • Transport: The Moscow Metro opened in 1935, Volga Canal completed in 1937
  • Consumer Goods: Bread rationing ended in 1934, between 1933-37 production of consumer goods doubled.
  • Productivity: The Stakhanovite movement increased labour productivity nationwide.
  • Heavy industry: Steel output trebled and coal production doubled.
  • Rearmament: Spending on rearmament rose from 4% of GDP in 1933 to 17% in 1937


  • Housing: Many new houses lacked running water and basic sanitation. 650,000 people in Moscow had no access to even a public bathhouse.
  • Consumer Goods: Many Russians had a poor diet and new clothing was difficult to obtain. A que of 6,000 formed outside a Leningrad shoe shop.
  • Inequalities: Most hypocritically, 55,000 senior communists were entitled to a higher standard of living, including holiday homes, chaffeur driven limosines, special consumer goods.
  • Quantity over quality continued into the Second 5 Year Plan.
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Third Five Year Plan 1938-41

The Third Five Year Plan was greatly hampered by the chaos of the Great Terror. The best economic planners and industrial managers were purged and Gosplan was never able to publish a complete version of the plan. However, the third five year plan remained focused on rearmament and heavy industry.


  • Rearmament: Total investment in rearmament doubled between 1938-40. In 1939, nine new aircraft factories were built.
  • Heavy Industry: Coal production jumped from 128 million tonnes in 1937 to 166 MT in 1940. Crude oil production rose from 29 MT in 1937 to 31 in 1940.
  • Worker discipline: Internal passports were introduced to stop workers from travelling the country in search of higher paid jobs.
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Third Five Year Plan 1938-41


  • Administration: Best economic planners and industrial managers purged, Gosplan unable to publish complete version of plan, execution of Plan highly chaotic.
  • Heavy Industry: Purges of industrial managers lead to stagnation of steel production, remaining at 18 million tonnes.
  • Consumer Goods: Food rationing reintroduced: bread, meat, pasta, sugar, fish, butter, tea, cigarettes, soap and lighter fluid rationed. Impossible to buy consumer goods such as refrigerators, making it difficult to keep fresh food.
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