Coursework: Soviet Union and Russian Economic Output Essay

Submitted By shakespierce
Words: 3031
Pages: 13

Stalin’s First Five Year Plan of 1928-1932 was undoubtedly hugely successful at increasing Russian Economic Output, especially when considered to previous plans that came before it. The First Five Year Plan was necessary by 1928 for Russian economic growth as previous plans had failed in various areas. Russian agricultural production wasn’t sufficient for industrialisation before 1928, as previous plans such as Serfdom, War Communism and NEP all failed at improving agricultural output. The First Five Year Plan marked a real beginning to the industrialisation of Russia, with intent on increasing both industrial and agricultural output with the addition of mechanisation in order to increase the economic power of the Soviet Union. Stalin believed that Russia was “fifty to one-hundred years behind advanced countries” needing to “cover this distance in ten years”[1]. This aim is evident with the vastness of the plan, setting huge targets via Gosplan and aspiring to finish within the five year timeframe, yet these ambitious targets of the plan meant that the quality of goods and the quality of the mechanisation used to improve industrial and agricultural output were of a quality less than sufficient. This similar theme carried through into the new showpieces and infrastructure, the canals were too shallow and areas such as Magnitogorsk weren’t fully functioning until the Second Five Year Plan. The fact that the First Five Year Plan was still hugely successful at increasing Russia’s Economic Output despite limitations such as these shows how impressive it was. One of the aims of the Five Year Plan was to improve agricultural production. Agricultural production levels in Russia had been a problem throughout the years in question, between 1825 and 1937. Improved levels of agriculture would correlate to an increase in the economic output of Russia. Under Serfdom, the majority of the Russian people lived as peasant farmers, but without the ability to own land and make their own profits, production levels were poor, so too were the harvesting methods. Production levels whilst Serfdom was occurring stood at 14 million tonnes of grain (annual harvest) in 1941[2]. War Communism had slashed grain harvest from 80.1 million tons to 46.5 million tons between 1913 and 1920[3], and as for NEP, it was never able to extend production levels past pre-1913 levels. When comparing these figures to those of the First Five Year Plan, it is evident that agricultural production had improved. Between 1928 and 1932, grain production levels increased from 73.3 to 83.5 million tons, an increase of 37 million tons since 1920.[4] For the industrialization drive to succeed, the state needed reliable grain deliveries[5*] and under the First Five Year Plan, Stalin’s collectivisation ensured that grain levels were sufficient to increase state procurement of grain to provide for the increase in industrial workers in the towns and cities. State procurement of grain increased by over 100% between 1928 and 1931, rising from 10.8 to 22.8 million tons.[5] The ability to provide workers in the new industrial cities such as Magnitogorsk was crucial if rapid industrialisation was to take place and in doing so, increase Russian economic output. With agricultural production, the First Five Year Plan was successful at doing this. However, despite the First Five Year Plans successes at increasing grain procurement, there were still many glaring failures in Russian agriculture that weren’t addressed by the First Five Year Plan. These failures created potential hindrances to the economic potential of the Soviet Union. Under the First Five Year Plan, famine was rife across much of the Soviet Union, with the Ukraine being one of the worst affected areas. With the state procurement of grain increasing, but the overall grain harvest decreasing (83.5 to 69.6 million tons between 1930 and 1932)[6], this in effect meant that the state was continuing to take increased levels of