In the years 1928-1941 Stain started a series of Five year plans for industry, how far were these successful? Once in power, Stalin was determined to modernise the USSR as quickly as possible, he wanted to compete with other foreign countries, but also he was afraid of a German invasion hence forth he set about achieving modernisation through a series of five year plans. These plans were set up by the GOSPLAN, the state planning organisation which Lenin had set up in 1921. The GOSPLAN set ambitious targets for the production in the vital industries such as coal and iron. The plans were very complex but by then end of 1928 every worker knew what they had to achieve. The First Five year plans focused mainly on the major industries such as electricity and oil, these were the targets set: * Increase agricultural production by 55 per cent
* Increase industrial production by 180 per cent
* Increase investment by 228 per cent
* Increase sales of production by 70 per cent.
Although most targets were not met, the first five year plan was hailed a success; the original target set in 1928 was nearly doubled by what was actually achieved in 1932. The USSR increased production and the first five year plans created a foundation on the next five year plans. The second Five year plan built on the achievements of the first, heavy industry was still prioritised, but other areas were also being developed; mining for lead, zinc and other materials intensified, transport and communication were also boosted and new railways and canals were built, the most prolific project was the Moscow underground railway which boosted the coal industry. The Industry side was thriving so Stalin wanted industrialisation to help improve Russia’s agriculture; the production of tractors and other farm machinery increased dramatically. Russia emerged powerful and modern state but all this was done at the cost of liberty of people.
It was impossible to house all the peasants who poured into the construction sites, therefore overcrowded, rundown buildings became home for most families. In factories form 1931 all workers had to obey strict rules or risk going to prison, workers who were absent from work for at least one day were sacked. Life was very harsh under Stalin, factory discipline as strict and punishments were severe, some of the tasks set by the Fiver year plans were so big that there were not enough workers to do them. Prisoners in prison were forced to do work, making the prisons labour camps, even drafting women into the industry. Unemployment was almost non-existent. Though some workers were better off than others, skilled workers were paid better, given better homes and food. Education became free and compulsory for all which Stalin invested in the colleges and workplaces. Stalin was prepared to destroy the way of life for the soviet people to help industrialisation.
For the five year plans to be successful, Stalin had to modernise the USSR’s agriculture, this was vital as by 1928 the country was 2 million tons short of grain, Stalin had a difficult time convincing the peasants about collectivisation, whereas the kulaks simply refused to hand over their land, Collectivisation became a grim and bitter struggle, the countryside was in chaos. To make it worse there was a famine in 1932-33, millions died in Russia’s richest agricultural region. Despite the famine, Stalin was still determined. By 1941 almost all of the agricultural land was under the collective system, Stalin had achieved his aim of collectivisation.
Ignoring the cost of human life, collectivisation was a success, no more famines came to haunt the Russian people. The collective farms, despite the struggle to get them, did grow more food than when they were privately owned. 30-40 million tons of grains were produced every year. Collectivisation also meant the introduction of the machines into the countryside; now two million peasants learned how to drive a tractors, new methods of farming was introduced. The countryside was transformed.
Overall to some extent the five year plans were successful, they modernised and industrialised Russia, and significantly increased production of machinery, steel, coal and electricity, amongst other things. However, the working conditions were very harsh, as were punishments for not meeting production targets. This led to poor quality of life for the workers, there was an enormous human cost. But Stalin did make the USSR into a modern state, therefore saving it from defeat when Hitler invaded. The succession of the five year plans meant glory for Stalin, he himself knew that- ‘we did not have a big industry for producing agricultural machinery, Now we have one.’