The process of industrialising a country is usually a long and drawn out one, but during the late 20’s Staling saw a need for a rapid industrialisation of Russia in order to bring it up to par with the remainder of Europe and the world. Although speeded up, the process took over 10 years, with the death of many.
It began at the 15th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in December 1927, Joseph Stalin attacked the left by expelling Trotsky and his supporters from the party and then moving against the right by abandoning Lenin’s New Economic Policy, he insisted that urvival and development could only occur by pursuing the rapid development of heavy industry. The party, under Stalin’s direction, established Gosplan, a state organization responsible for guiding the country towards accelerated industrialisation.
In April 1928 Gosplan released two drafts that began the process that would industrialise the primarily agrarian nation. This 1,700 page report became the basis of the First Five-year. Shifting from Lenin’s NEP, the first Five-Year Plan established central strength as the basis of rapid, heavy industrialisation. It began he rapid process of transforming a largely agricultural nation consisting of peasants into an industrial superpower. The new economic system put forward by the first Five-Year plan involved a complicated series of planning arrangements.
The first Five- Year plan focused on the mobilization of natural resources to build up the country’s heavy industrial base by increasing output of coal, iron, and other vital resources. The increase of resources by state planning expanded the country’s industrial base. From 1928 to 1932, peak iron output, the amount of pig iron being produced rose from 3. 3 million to 6. million tons per year. Coal, the essential product fuelling modern economies, successfully rose from 35. 4 million to 64 million tons, and output of iron ore rose from 5. 7 million to 19 million tons.
A number of industrial complexes such as Magnitogorsk had been built or were under construction. In real terms, the workers’ standards of living tended to drop, rather than rise during the industrialisation. Stalin’s laws to “tighten work discipline” made the situation worse, for example, a change to the labour code enabled firing workers who had been absent without a reason from the work place for Just one day. Being fired meant losing “the right to use ration and commodity cards” as well as the “loss of the right to use an apartment” and even blacklisted for new employment which altogether meant a threat of starving.
Those measures, however, were not fully enforced, as managers often desperately needed to hire new workers Based on these figures the Soviet government declared that Five Year Industrial Production Plan had been fulfilled by 93. 7% in only four years, while parts devoted to heavy-industry part were fulfilled by 108%. Stalin in December 1932 declared the plan a success to the Central Committee. During the second five-year plan (1933-37), on the basis of the huge investment during the first plan, industry expanded extremely rapidly, and nearly reached the plan.
By 1937 coal output was 127 million tons, and pig iron 14. 5 million tons. While undoubtedly marking a massive leap in industry, the first Five Year Plan was extremely harsh on industrial workers; quotas were difficult to fulfil, requiring that miners put in 16 to 18-hour workdays. Failure to fulfil the quotas could result in treason charges. Working conditions were poor, even hazardous. By some estimates, 127,000 workers died during the four. Due to the allocation of resources for industry along with decreasing productivity since the beginning of collectivization, a famine occurred.
The use of forced labour must also not be overlooked. In the construction of the industrial complexes, inmates of labour were used as expendable resources. But conditions improved rapidly during the second plan. Throughout the 1930s, industrialization was combined with a rapid expansion of education at schools and in higher education. From 1921 until 1954, during the period of state-guided, forced industrialization, it is claimed 3. 7 million people were sentenced for alleged counter- evolutionary crimes, including 0. 6 million sentenced to death, 2. million sentenced to labour camps, and 0. 7 million sentenced to exile. Another key factor in the industrialisation of Russia was collectivisation. In 1928, Russia turned toward mass collectivization. 1928 also marked the end of the NEP, which allowed peasants to sell their surplus on the open market. Demand for food intensified, especially in the USSR’s primary grain producing regions. Upon Joining kolkhozes peasants had to give up their private plots of land and property. Every harvest, Kolkhoz produce was sold o the state for a low price set by the state itself.
However, the natural progress of collectivization was slow. By 1936, about 90% of Soviet agriculture had been collectivized. In many cases, peasants bitterly opposed this process and often slaughtered their animals rather than give them to collective farms, even though the Government only wanted the grain. Kulaks, prosperous peasants, were forcibly resettled to the Russian Far North. However, Just about anyone opposing collectivization was deemed a “kulak”. The policy of liquidation of kulaks as a class meant some executions, and even more deportation.