Stalin's Five Year Plans: The First Five Year Plan (October 1928- December 1932)


Ideological Reasons for introducing the first plan

Socialism only possible in highly advanced industrial nations 

Russia up to 100 years behind western countries

Stalin believed the revolution should serve the wroking class, not peasants like the NEP

His intention was to replace the 'Bourgeois specialists' (industrial managers during NEP) with 'red specialists' (educated by communists and working class)

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Political Reasons for introducing the first plan

'Crash Industrialisation' inspired by collectivisation 'successes'

After winning leadership, Stalin wanted to do one better than Lenin, get a better reputation that Lenin

Stalin was concerned Russia wouldn't be able to defend itself in the event of war

To repel attacks needed to develop iron, steel, oil and coal industries on a grand scale 

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Economic Reasons for introducing the first plan

Responce to NEP's failure to industrialise Russia

E.g. amount of Iron, Steel and Copper under the NEP were less than that under the Tsar

Russia significantly behind Germany, France and other western countries

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The First Five Year Plan

Series of targets, drawn up by government officals working for Gosplan (State Planning Committee) 

Gosplan employed 1/2 million bureaucrats, who set targets of every factory, workshops and mill in Russia 

All targets were set centrally, with limited knowledge of what they were dealing with

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Priorities of the first plan

Favoured heavy industries e.g. iron, coal, steel, oil over consumer goods e.g textiles and food 

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Stalin's Priorities

Stalin didn't understand industry and agriculture

In Stalin's mind, industrialisation equated to creating a heavy industry

Only visited farmland once, yet regularly visited iron foundries and steel works

Stalin believed the path of industrialization began with heavy industry

Stalin was obssessed with heavy industry, bound up in the desire of creating a strong Russia, aa country of iron and steel

Prized physical and mental strength

Stalin = Man of Steel

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Priorities in Foundational Industries

Focusing on heavy industry, attempted to lay the foundations for future industrial development

All industries needed raw materials e.g coal, steel, iron to develop

By mass-producing raw materials it would help to gain more skilled workers

As the majority of Stalin's industrial labour force were unskilled peasants that left the countryside after collectivisation

The peasants were unskilled to the production of complex consumer goods but good at production of large quantities of raw materials

Stalin believed that allowing peasants to gain skills for more sophisticated work e.g textiles

Also would lay the foundations for re-armament in case of war

Though he didn't intend to go to war, he knew Russia had to be ready just in case an invasion occured

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Successes of the First Plan

Finished a year early in December 1932, due to its huge success, production of raw materials had increased substaintially and Russia was a more dynamic country

Successes included:

Increasing production

Social mobility

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Successes - Increasing Production

Economic growth in Russia up around 14% each year 

Remarkable considering the state of depression following wall street crash in America and Europe 

Achieved better economic success than Tsarism and the NEP in terms of iron, steel, oil and coal

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Successes- Social Mobility

Urban population trebled as peasants moved to cities

Peasants taking unskilled jobs, with existing workers getting promoted 

Education reformed, workers encouraged to attend classes on technical subjects, university made avaliable to people with minimal qualifications 

Program of 'proletarain advancement' in which got rid of 'bourgeious specialists replacing them with 150,000 newly trained working class 'red specialists'

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Failures of the First Plan

Stalin used impressive statistics of increased production in heavy industry as evidence of his wise leadership and the triumpt of socialism

However behind the propanganda was a chaotic economy which struggled to meet targets due to inefficencies and low labour productivity

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Failures- Meeting Targets

Production increased yet many official targets were not met

Large-scale fraud by local administration allowed Stalin to claim it was 'over-fulfilled'

Local party officals sacked or demoted if failed to meet production targets

Due to this many lied about the amount they were producing, giving the impression that targets had been reached

Targets were about quantity not quality so consequencly large amounts of materials were produced but they were of such low quality they were useless

Focus of production not consumption, if it wasn't used after production, it was left to decay

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Failures- Living and Working Conditions

Living standards improvements not part of plan, subsequentially:

Workers sustained by rations, meaning their diet was worse that under the NEP

Consumer goods practically disappeared and queuing became a everyday thing

Stalin introduced a seven day week, so sunday was just another worknig day

Working conditions deterioirated, with many peasants from the country died due to the factory work

Miners worked unsafe conditions 

Labour discipline was harsh, lateness was a crime, strikes were outlawed and workers who broke machinery were named 'saboteurs' and were exiled to labour camps

Pressure was counter-productive as it meant low productivity

Many of the worker were prisoners forced to work to achieve and build the Soviet Union

Known by prison guards as 'white coal', had no rights and often left to stare to death

-Slave labour

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Failures- The Abolition of the Free Market

One of Stalin's aims was to get rid of the free market and replace it with a centeralised planned economy

However it was unable to do so, and instead encouraged the formation of the black market

Shortage of consumer goods increased value, encouraging illegal trade of Vodka, Cigarettes, Footwear and Food

The black market was widespread, hard to stamp out by police, any that were cuaght were made a show of

'Speculators' were subject to 'show trials' in which they usually ended up in forced labour camps

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