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‘Stalin’s industrial policies were more successful than his attempts to modernise agriculture’ - How far do you agree with this view?

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Introduction

'Stalin's industrial policies were more successful than his attempts to modernise agriculture.' How far do you agree with this view? The USSR was 50 - 100 years behind the west. They had to catch up within 10 years or go down. It needed to compete with the USA by reorganizing and modernizing. This was done by introducing the Five Year Plans in 1928.The first five year plan concentrated on the heavy industries such as coal, iron, oil and steel. Stalin ordered these to double in five years. The second Five Year Plan began in 1933 and focused on consumer goods, but by 1934 the emphasis had changed to military expenditure. A third Five Year Plan was begun in 1938, but was cut short by the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941. Collectivisation was part of the first Five Year Plan and was an attempt to move peasants to large collective farms so machinery and skilled labour could be used more effectively, ad so no individuals gained profit. ...read more.

Middle

The only incentive to keep working was fear. Many, if not all skilled engineers and workmen were arrested and taken to prison camps or killed on charges of sabotage to stop them using their personal skills for personal profit. This caused problems for factories: uneducated, unskilled labourers did not know how to work machines, and they broke down. Huge projects such as building the new industrial cities such as Magnitogorsk, forced many men to work in freezing conditions, and die in freezing conditions if they did not work hard enough or if they could not cope. It is estimated that 50 000 000 people died as a result of harsh working conditions. Did collectivisation work? Its aim was to transform 25 million farms into under 250 000 farms. By 1932, 62% of farms where collectivised and by 1940, 400 000 collective farms had been set up. The extension of state control over the peasants was huge; it gave Stalin a chance to enforce regulations. ...read more.

Conclusion

Five million people died in the Ukraine alone, one quarter of the population of Kazakhstan was wiped out and overall 20 million people died from famine. Within a few years nearly 20 million people had been transported to forced labour camps of prisons and many of them died there of hunger, exhaustion or disease. As the more realistic targets of the Five Year Plans reveal, Stalin's government was capable of learning from its difficulties and errors and revising is aims. Therefore, though the areas of faults were momentous, the overall achievement of Stalin's revolution was incredible. I agree that that industrialisation, although it had its major flaws, was more successful than the modernisation of agriculture as fewer deaths were caused, and less destruction was left in its wake. Collectivisation on the other hand was the cause of famine, murder and the disruption of farmers' lives. The statistics of the 1930s do not give us an accurate view of the so called revolution, but from what information is available, Stalin succeeded in many ways. But how can any such achievement be a success with so many innocent lives lost? Sam Daniels 30/04/2007 1 ...read more.

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