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In the light of the documents, critically analyse the success of the transformation of the Soviet Union under Stalin between 1928-1941.

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Introduction

ENH Essay Subject: In the light of the documents, critically analyse the success of the transformation of the Soviet Union under Stalin between 1928-1941. Despite the ravages of seven years of war, production had almost reached pre-war levels by the mid-1920s in the Soviet Union. However, the population had increased by 20 millions in the same period and in 1921, Lenin had said, "We are in condition of such poverty, ruin and exhaustion... that everything must be set aside to increase production". Much had been achieved, but much more laid ahead: Stalin's economic policy had one essential aim, the modernisation of the Soviet Union, as he affirmed, "We are fifty or a hundred years behind the advanced countries. We must make good this lag in ten years. Either we accomplish this or we will be crushed". In order to accomplish his daring ambitions, Stalin had two essential methods, collectivisation and industrialisation. The collectivisation of agriculture, which substituted State ownership of the land for individual peasant-proprietorship, was a means to an end: It was intended to serve the needs of industrialisation drive which began with the introduction of the First Five-Year Plan in 1928. Indeed, the collectivisation of agriculture seems to have been a necessary prerequisite for the launching of the First Five-Year Plan. In 1928 80% of approximately 150 millions Soviet citizens were engaged in agriculture. By the late twenties the peasant population, which was broken up into 25 millions families, had greatly improved its relative position in Soviet society as a result of the Revolution and NEP (New Economic Policy launched by Lenin). ...read more.

Middle

By 1940 the per capita production of fruit crops, meat, and eggs still did not attain the level of 1928, while it was as late as 1957 before the number of cattle was restored to the pre-collectivisation level. The collective farms established during the thirties were divided into two basic types: sovkhozes and kolkhozes. From the very beginning the Soviet authorities attached special importance to the state-financed sovkhozes (state farms) and intended them so serve as models for the overwhelming majority of peasants in the kolkhozes. Sovkhoz performance, however, fell short of official expectations, though their efficiency has improved and their relative number and importance has grown since the mid-fifties. On the kolkhoz, in contrast to the sovkhoz, the land is socialized but parts of it are allocated to individual kolkhoznik households for private use. The 1939 increase is due to these "kitchen gardens", making up for one third of the production. The chief aim of Soviet policy makers, however, was to promote industrial, not agricultural, growth. Collectivisation gave an initial impulse to industrialization by siphoning agricultural surplus income and manpower out of the countryside and into the city by the means of the lowering of the peasants' standard of living and the tightening of the political control over the peasant community: but it was clear from the very beginning that the efforts of the State Planning Commission (Gosplan) and the Supreme Economic Council (Vesenkha) to plan and coordinate the economy had to be greatly intensified if rapid economic growth was to be continued. ...read more.

Conclusion

In conclusion, looking back at such figures, Stalin's industrialisation was a great success, the most remarkable in history, while at the same period, the world was undergoing the consequences of the Great Depression which followed the Wall-Street Crash of 1929. He pulled the Soviet Union from backwardness to a position in which it could win the Second World War, and he even impressed Western countries with his results. However, the extent of this success is questionable for several reason, the most important one being if the cost of this industrialisation was worth it. Indeed, through the collectivisation process, it is possible that up to 20 millions people died of starvation, living standards were horrendous even though the Five-Year plans never intended to raise such standards, and the Soviet Union had to part from most of her great political figures, such as Bukharin, Kamenev, Zimoniev or Rykov, through the Purges. Indeed, Stalin had to provide rational explanations to the failures of the "war" on backwardness by bringing such people to a trial for sabotage or mismanagement. These Purges are the perfect example of the ideology directed by Stalin, one of coercion and violence which opens to question the motives of his absolute wish of making of the Soviet Union one of the world's greatest power. Possibly was Stalin only stimulated by his greed and will of power as the Purges and the collectivisation through its dekulakisation process show but, nevertheless, he brought the Soviet Union out of her backwardness. The extent of this success is however moderated by its cost, in the sense that the Soviet Union lost some 20 millions people and her greatest political figures. 1 1/4 Cedric CHAMOIN 1�re S5 Cedric CHAMOIN 1�re S5 ...read more.

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