The Third Five Year Plan

January 1938 - June 1941

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Historical Context

War across Europe seemed to be imminent:

German expansion escalated and their preparations for war accelerated Invasion of Austria (March 1938)

Hitler organized the mobilisation of the Army (August 1938)

Kristallnacht (November 1938)

But – Russia was still behind other major European countries in terms of industrialisation = they would struggle if they were involved in the War

In WWI, the Tsar lost the faith of the country and was forced to abdicate

If Russia was involved in defeats, perhaps the Russian population may turn against them à therefore, there needed to be a focus on rearmament so that the USSR would be ready for the impending war

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The 3rd Five-Year Plan

The five-year plan was devised to prepare Russia for War

Applied methods used during the first year plan to war production

Setting targets with the priority on production and ignoring consumption

Industry was formed from the backbone of heavy industries Coal production leapt from 128m tonnes to 166m tonnes (1937-40)

Crude oil rose marginally from 29m tonnes to 31m tonnes (1937-40)

The amount of military goods increased, but the quality of goods decreased

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Had already begun during the 2nd five-year plan – this increased severely during the 3rd plan

By 1940, 1/3 of Government investment went to the armed forces (doubled since 1937)

3rd plan initiated important innovations in military technology; there were 9 new aircraft factories built in 1939

Stalin himself recognised the importance of this, as he personally reviewed the figures on the amount of aeroplanes/engines built on a daily basis

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A ‘quicksand society’

Harsh new measures were introduced to ensure labour discipline

In light of the 1st and 2nd plans, peasants had moved to the industrial cities à this meant that there were more workers and the original workers were promoted to managerial roles

However, many workers regularly switched jobs in search of better pay

Moshe Lewin – ‘quicksand society’ = rapidly shifting

Factories could not guarantee labour

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The solution

The government introduced ‘internal passports’ in 1940

These restricted the workers’ movement from job to job

Ensured a supply of labour for factory owners

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In the countryside

The government attempted to reassert its control

In a Politburo report (May 1939), agricultural production was boosted by limiting the amount of time peasants spent on their private land

The report also reduced the size of the private plots

Both these attempted to refocus the energies on production for the collective farms

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Problems in the implementation of the 3rd plan

The administration was complicated; Russian industry and Gosplan were in chaos

The purges led to the removal and execution of many managers, which furthered the planning chaos

The moderate group from the politburo were removed in 1936

They had offered creative solutions, but in their absence, the plan was unchallenged = Stalin could revert to terror to motivate workers

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The End of the Plan

May 1941 – Stalin received secret intelligence about the German army:

8m men

12,000 tanks

52,000 guns

20,000 aircraft

This meant that Russia would soon be involved in the war. As a result of this: Stalin took direct control of the ministry of defence industry (this ended Gosplan’s responsibility for the military economy( The Central Committee declared that all the county’s resources should be mobilised in preparation for war

The plan came to a premature end because of this

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