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To what extent were the people of the Soviet Union better off in 1941 than in 1928 after thirteen years of Stalin's Russia?

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Introduction

To what extent were the people of the Soviet Union better off in 1941 than in 1928 after thirteen years of Stalin's Russia? When Stalin came to power conditions in Russia were very bad, both financially and generally. After 4 years of war, and 3 years of the civil war, the Russian people were on the verge of starvation, with many of their homes destroyed after the fighting. By 1921 the Kronstacht sailors began to revolt, wanting freedom and prosperity. Lenin had introduced the New Economic Policy to try and prevent any further revolts. This allowed economic freedom to some Russian people, and gave peasants the chance to become a lot more prosperous. However, only food production had increased, and industry had only risen a minor amount due to the products given to the Russian army during the war. So the Russian people were well off as far as food went, but industry was still undeveloped, because the workers were unmotivated to produce large amounts. So before Stalin came to power, the Russian people were starving, and those providing the food were getting little pay, due to the availability of food there was after NEP was introduced. In 1928, Russia was two million tonnes short of the grain it needed to feed its workers, so Russian towns were in a state of famine. Stalin was aware of this lack of production in industry and knew he had to have as many workers working in industry as possible. ...read more.

Middle

Although actual production figures were lower than the targets, remarkable growth in output was achieved. Stalin's plan had dramatically increased production in the USSR and established a foundation base for the future plans. The workers were given propaganda and incentives, such as medals, to encourage them to work harder. However, they were working under the threat of execution, as were their managers. Due to the ambitious ideas of Stalin, many worked to produce a certain quantity, and not quality. People were putting more work in to making capital goods, like coal and steel, which meant very small amounts of consumer goods were produced. The Second Five-Year Plan (1933-1937) built on the achievements of the first. Heavy industry remained the priority, but other areas were also developed. For example, transport and communications were also boosted, and new canals and railways - such as the spectacular Moscow underground railway -were built. The Third Five-Year Plan was begun in 1938, but was heavily disrupted by the Second World. After these plans were completed, the majority of Russians were better off, as they had clothes, food and the knowledge that they had protection against Hitler. By the late 1930s many Soviet workers had improved their life by acquire well-paid skilled jobs and earning bonuses for meeting targets. Some aspects of the Russian lifestyle were flourishing; unemployment was extremely low and education became free and compulsory for all and Stalin invested heavily in training schemes in colleges and at work. ...read more.

Conclusion

Religious groups were under huge threat in 1941, as Stalin became very ruthless against Christians and Muslims in Russia. So those who were a different religion to Stalin were not better off in 1941, because in 1928, there was a partial freedom for people to chose which religion they were a part of. Stalin was also very harsh against those who were not Russian, even though he was Georgian. So, people were generally not better off in terms of living conditions, except for those poor peasants, who may not have even had living conditions until Collectivisation had been introduced. Work conditions had improved and morale was very high in some people, with the knowledge that the Five-year plans had produced good weaponry to use against the German army. However, this industrialisation came at a huge price, and many were left in fear or the Purges, and of other people in their community trying to convict them of being against Stalin. Many minority groups of nationalities and religions were worse off in 1941 than in 1928, due to the harsh view taken by Stalin. Many non-Russian traditions were discouraged along with the use of non-Russian languages. It seems that the only person who was completely better off in 1941 than in 1928, was Stalin himself. He had achieved all the goals he had wanted, like industrialisation and Collectivisation, and had complete rule over Russia due to the terror created by his secret police. ...read more.

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