A GRADE ESSAY: How Successful were the Five Year Plans (FYPs) in transforming Russian Industry in the Years to 1941?

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The FYPs were Stalin's solution to creating highly advanced indutrialised nation in order to achive Socialism. They were a response to the ceasing of the NEP, which had failed to industrialise Russia quickly enough. However, although the FYPs achieved industrialisation to some extent, it could be argued that Stalin's dreams of Socialist industrial utopia were not realised.

The First Five Year Plan aimed to target heavy industry and experienced both successes and failures. One success of the First FYP was the oil production targets set by Gosplan were exceeded by a significant margin. Furthermore, production of electricity and coal increased massively but failed to exceed the targets set. Creation of machinary, tools, electric motors, locomotives and turbines increased as a result of the advancements in engineering and the creation of new factories. Enormous industrial works and even whole cities were created in inhospitable but mineral rich ares; the most famous example being Magnitogorsk, which was transformed from an obscyre fortress town with just a few hundred citizens into an industrial city with a population of a quater of a million. However, there were many failures of the First FYP. Lack of attention was given to improving standards of living and consumer industries progressed very little, or, some would argue, even worsened. The emphasis on heavy industry meant that consumer goods were in short supply and shops were often empty; Stalin expected workers to make sacrifises in order to help the USSR industrialise. In addition, the workforce mainly consisted of unskilled, illiterate peasants who had recently left the collectivised countryside, because of this production targets were not met and the quality of goods produced was unreliable. Targets were often unrealistic and consquences of failure were harsh, thus corruption became endemic as frightened managers bribed their way out of difficulties and improvised statistics. So, although the First FYP brought the beginnings of 'crash industrialisation' to Russia, most targets for industry were not…


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