How successful was Stalin’s economic policy in the years 1928-1941?

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During the years 1928-41, Stalin’s five year plans successfully improve Russia’s economic. This was mostly due to the fact that heavy industry in Russia was massively increased; the production of commodities such as iron, coal, steel and iron all increased successfully. Other successes of Stalin’s economic policy were rearmament, improved labour productivity and new transport links. However, it would be incorrect to suggest that Stalin’s economic policy was completely successful as there were also failures in the years 1928-1941. These included the decline in the production of consumer goods during this period of time. It should also be pointed out that although rearmament did take place, Stalin’s economic policy did not succeed in fully preparing Russia for war.

The focus of the first three Five-Year Plans were on heavy industry and the increase in the production of commodities to develop heavy industry was a huge success of Stalin’s economic policy. During the First Five-Year Plan, heavy industry produced the raw materials needed for future economic development and also for rearmament and Russia’s economy grew at the rapid rate of 14% per year. The production of iron increased from 3.3 millions of tonnes in 1928 to 6.2 in 1932, steel production grew from 4.0 millions of tonnes to 5.9, coal increased from 35.4 to 64.3 and oil rose from 11.7 to 21.4. For this reason the output of raw materials produced during this plan exceeded the production under the NEP. Additionally, the Second Five-Year Plan saw the steel output treble and the coal production double. During the Third Five-Year Plan coal production rose from 128 million tonnes in 1937 to 166 million tonnes in 1940 and crude oil production increased from 29 million tonnes to 31 million tonnes. The success of heavy industry meant that Stalin could lay stable foundations and in turn contributed heavily to the victory of the Second World War. For this reason, Stalin’s economic policy, in terms of increasing heavy industry was extremely successful.

Although the amount of raw materials produced was increased as a result of this economic policy, it does not mean that quality increased with it. People in charge of workers felt pressure to meet Stalin’s aims, which were extravagant and rarely ever met, as they feared violence if they did not. This meant that they focused more on the quantity they produced instead of the quality and therefore, although Stalin’s economic was successful, it was only to an extent as his targets were rarely fulfilled and the raw materials produced lack quality. The focus on quantity, and the pressure that was put on to managers to meet targets, led to managers lying about how much they had produced. This was a major downfall of the economic policy and therefore limits its success.

It was this struggle to meet targets and the fear of death if targets were not met that led to low labour productivity during the Frist Five-Year Plan and this held back economic growth. Although this is a weakness of Stalin’s…

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