Between 1928 and 1991 the Soviet Union rose from being a backward nation to being a strong superpower. Tens of Millions of Soviets died int his period and in 1991 it collapsed.

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Stalin Rose To Power in a Number of Ways:

  • Seceretery of the Communist PArty-He used this postition to ensure his own supporters were appointed and older less loyal members were removed.
  • Throughtout the 1930s he strenghtened his leadership and established a powerful dictatorship until his death in 1953.
  • After Lenins death in 1924, he took control of the Soviet Union along with Trotsky, Kamenev and Zinoviev.
  • Lenin- He gained Lenins respect before his death because of his loyalty and devotion to the party.
  • In 1928 he became the sole leader after removing his rivals.
  • No-one dared to question him as he was a very powerful dictator.
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  • They were 50/100 years behind Western Countries and Stalin wanted to make this time up in ten years.
  • Stalin belived that the backward methods of the Soviet uniopn would cause poverty and make them lose wars.
  • In 1928 factories were very old fashioned e.g. US factories were 10 times bigger on average.
  • Make the USSR less reliant on imports of manufactured goods from other countries .
  • Give all Russians a higher standard of living .
  • Make communism very popular in the USSR .
  • Make products to sell to other countries .
  • Become very strong in order to defend the USSR against capitalist countries .
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Five Year Plans

Stalin made changes in Industry through Five Year Plans, these were targets set to improve production and had a number of elelments.

  • Fear was used to encourage workers and the NKVD removed slow workers, slackers and sabouteurs.
  • Individual production targets were set for each factory,mine etc.
  • Volunteers from the Komsomol worked in factories.
  • Enormous public work programmes built infastructure e.g. the Moscow Underground,Dneiper Dam,Belomor Canal. Zeks from Gulags were often used for these schemes.
  • Propaganda Campaigns encouraged workers to try harder e.g the Stakanovite Movement.
  • Local factories, mines and quarries were set targets by Gosplan.
  • All workers were retrained by shock brigades, similar to US production methods.
  • New Industrial Centres were built in remote areas such as Stalinsk, Magnitogorsk and Karaganda.
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Five Year Plans

Often the plans never lasted 5 years because Stalin felt the targets had already been reached. The third five year plan was cut short by the German Invasion of the USSR (Operation Barbossa).

First Plan: 1928-1932 (4 Years)

Concentrated on Oil,Coal,Iron and Steel.

Second Plan: 1933-1937 (4 Years)

Concentrated on Oil,Coal,Iron,Steel,Tractors,Electricity and Military Goods.

Third Plan: 1938-1941 (3 Years)

Concentrated on Oil,Coal,Iron,Steel,Tractors,Electricity,Household oods and Military Goods.

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  • The Red Army was the biggest army in the world with modern weapons.
  • Public work schmes improved Soviet Infastructure.
  • Education programmes transformed the state. Moscow University was the biggest in the world and free education was offered for children between 4 and 11.
  • Between 1928 and 1940 oil production rose by 300%, coal and iron by 400%,Steel by 500% and electricity by 700%. Overall Industrial production rose by 400%.
  • The Soviet Unions industrial production was greater than Britains, Similar to Germanys and only beaten by the USAs.
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Did it Work? NEGATIVES

  • 10-40 Million people were killed.
  • Cities were overcrowded and there were food shortages.
  • Very little progress was made on improving the peoples quality of life.
  • Figures were exagerrated to make them look more impressive.
  • Workes lives became difficult e.g you could be excecuted for accidently damaging a machine.
  • The quality of goods was very poor e.g. Between 1928 and 1937 40% of goods were declared faulty.
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Changes in Agriculture


  • Most farms were small inefficient subsistence farms.
  • Agricultural production was tiny compared to Germany,Britain and the USA.
  • Because Of the New Economic Policy that Lenin introduced in 1921 many farms were privately owned by Kulaks. Stalin wanted to remove the Kulaks so that he could control all farming. This was called De-Kulakisation.
  • Stalin needed more workers in the cities so he wanted machines to replace peasents e.g. tractors.


  • Smaller farms were grouped togethor into large collective farms called Kolkhoz's.
  • These farms would be set production targets and were allowed to keep produce once they exceeded these targets.
  • The farms were supposed to be equipped with schools, hospitals, Motor Tractor Stations etc. But very few were.
  • At first collectivisation was voluntary but eventually it was enforced and he delcared was on the Kulaks.
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  • Red Army soldiers were sent into the countryside to confiscate food and force peasents to move into industial centres. Anyone who resisted was sent to the Gulags, forced to work in factories or shot.
  • Many peasents ate, setroyed or burnt their crops and livestocks to ensure that the State couldnt get hold of it. OVer half of livestock and harvests were destroyed in 1932.
  • A famine swept the nation in 1932 and 1933 where 20 million people died.
  • Stalin continued to sell grain during the famine.
  • He even admitted that 10 million peasents were killed or arrested by the Red Army or NKVD during these years.
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Successes and Failures of Collectivisation


  • By 1940 99% of all land was part of a collective farm.
  • By 1940 agricultural production was beggining to exceed 1928 levels.
  • New modern techniques and chemicals were introduced.
  • Substitence Farming was replaced with performance related pay.
  • Stalin could control food supplies in the cities.


  • Production in 1940 wasnt much higher than the days of Tsar Nicholas ii.
  • Production was less efficient than other countries.
  • 10 million peasents were deported to Gulags or Industrial Centres.
  • 20 million people died from the famine.
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