Stalins Five Year Plans 1928-41

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The communist party was the party of the proletariat, and Stalin felt that by increasing industry, he would increase the proletariat and thus increase party loyalists. On top of this, in 1931 Stalin famously claimed that Russia was '50-100 years behind her western neighbors, a gap that had to be closed in a decade, or else Russia would fall'. With the N.E.P. becoming increasingly unpopular, and industry outputs of coal, steel and oil only equal to 1914 levels, it was clear that it was time for a change.

Stalin demanded rapid industrialisation. He introduced a command economy, where production levels and prices are set by the economy (everything is public sector) and turned to Gosplan, the State Planning Committee to drive the plans.

The first five year plan was from 1928-1932 (note how the five year plan only took 4 years to complete, a canny piece of propaganda on Stalins part which played into the nationalistic hearts of the people) was aimed at developing the heavy industries of coal, iron, steel, oil and heavy machinery as Stalin held the view that these represented the building blocks to an advanced industrial economy, one that could compete on a world scale. Targets were set by Gosplan; coal at 75 million tonnes; iron ore at 19 million and steel at 10 million. New industries were built east of the Ural mountains, just incase the USSR was invaded from the west by the likes of Germany, and places including kazakstan and Uzbekistan were developed economically for the first time in their histories. New cities were constructed from scratch! Magnitogorsk being the most notable as it became an icon for industrial expansion, although those who worked and lived there did so in dire conditions. On top of this, electricity became more and more important, and therefore Stalin ordered the construction of a hydroelectric Dam on the River Dnieper. Increasing number of tractor factories were constructed, as well as car factories and Canals in order to improve the transport of materials.

However, due to the scaling up of targets by Gosplan and Vesenkha (the government committee for economics) in order to impress Stalin, factory owners grew increasingly worried of failure. There were shortages of resources, which was enhanced by bidding wars in order to obtain them to continue production. As a result, industries that couldn't get sufficient resources underproduced, and those with excess resource overproduced resulting in vast wastes. As there was a consensus of gigantomania (quantity over quantity), that which was produced was seldom of a good quality, and a car tyre made during the first five year plan had an average lifespan of  meagre three weeks. Only one production target was actually met during the plan, and that was Oil which achieved an output of 21.4 million tonnes against it's 19 million target. all other industries effectively underachieved.

Despite all of this, the plan was actually a relative success. For instance, if Gosplan and Vesenkha hadn't gone mad with attempting to outbid eachother, the…



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