To what extent had the Soviet Union become a superpower by 1945?
1. What is a superpower? ‘A superpower is a state with a dominant position in the international system which has the ability to influence events and its own interests and project power on a worldwide scale to protect those interests. A superpower is traditionally considered to be a step higher than a great power.’ (provided by wikipedia)
2. The building of the Soviet Union:
The 1917 Russian Revolution brought down the Tsarist government and led to the formation of the Russian Provisional Government. This government was short lived and led to the formation of the Soviet Union in 1922. The first leader of the Soviet Union – Vladmir Lenin, wished for the Union and Communist revolution to spread across the world. After Lenin’s death in 1924, Stalin took over the Soviet Union.
3. Stalin’s economic policies (271 - ):
Stalin rejected Trotsky’s idea of permenant revolution thinking it would use too many resources, instead he proposed the policy of ‘socialism in one country’ in 1925 to convert the then backwards Soviet Union into a modern industrialised state. This was in order to protect the communist revolution from opposition.
Stalin created a ‘five year pan’ which would bring about his wish in stages. Stalin’s qoute: ‘The fundemental task of the Five-Year Plan is to convert the USSR from an agrarian and weak country dependant on the caprices of capitalist economy, into an industrial and powerful country, fully self-reliant and dependant of world capitalism.’ This suggests that Stalin wanted the S U to be the first independent communist superpower.
4. Stalin’s first five year plan p281 (1928) – called for rapid industrialisation of country with emphasis placed on heavy industry. Plan aimed to expand heavy industry by over 300, and aim for resources to be geared towards prodcuiton of capital rather than consumer goods. The plan was accomplished in 4 years at a time when the Western World’s economy was slumping, suggesting that Russia was beginning to exert dominance over the world.
5. Second five year plan (p284) 1933-8, aimed to build achievments of first plan, although at a lesser pace. There was an increase in the manufacture of machinery, which made Soviet less dependant on outside nations for trade. There was also an increase of arnments, however workers were still in bad conditions.
The rapid growth in industry by 1940, allowed Russia to rival and overtake Europe’s industry, pointing towards Russia developing into a superpower.
6. Third five year plan: 1938-42 page 287 -The third five year plan played a major part in building up the army and assisting the Soviet Union to hold its ground during the Nazi invasion. Due to the second five year plan the Soviet Union was already a major economic power and was capable of large productions. The third five year plan consisted of improving the mobility of the forces which had previously been a problem in ww1, larger and further…