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To what extent were the sufferings of the Soviet people in the 1930s a price that was worth paying for the progress that was made under Stalin?

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Introduction

To what extent were the sufferings of the Soviet people in the 1930s a price that was worth paying for the progress that was made under Stalin? In my opinion, the suffering that the Soviet people went through was worth it as Russia progressed a lot under Stalin's leadership. Although some things did not change, and some seemed to get even worse, important changes were made that brought Russia nearer the line with other European countries; and ultimately helped them defeat Germany in the Second World War. Agriculture was a major part of Russian society. This was because most people living in Russia were illiterate peasants and could only really work on land. Under the NEP, peasants were either agricultural labourers with no land, or prosperous peasants (known as Kulaks) who owned small farms. These people used old-fashioned, out of date farming methods. These farms were small and inefficient; so many fertilisers, machinery such as tractors, and other modern methods were not used. These could not be afforded anyway. Stalin planned to modernise this. He wanted to build factories to increase the industrial centres to make the country strong and wealthy, but there was the problem of feeding all the workers. As early as 1928 Russia was already 2 million tons short of the grain needed to feed its workers. He also wanted to raise money for his industrialisation programme, and needed money to buy machinery from other countries. ...read more.

Middle

Some workers even had to live in tents and huts. Because of the uninterrupted week, husbands and wives found that they usually didn't have the same day off; so couldn't spend much time together. Also, Christians weren't always given Sundays off to attend church. Bad working and living conditions still existed, and there weren't much consumer goods available. People got paid low wages, and workers were punished harshly for minor faults. They could not escape these conditions as internal passports had been introduced. There was also an emphasis on quantity more than quality in industries as they had to meet targets. But industrialisation did bring lots of success. As there was a lot of enthusiasm and hard work from people, Stalin decided to cut a year off the plan. In a sense conditions did improve as there were now hospitals, free medical care and pensions available to people. There were also schools, meaning there were not as many illiterates and everyone had equal job opportunities. The Stakhanovites were also given flats of their own and other luxury goods. Everyone had a job in Russia, which contrasted with most other places while the depression was going on. As there were more jobs to do than people available, women could work too. Nurseries for children opened, making this possible. Also, a second successful 5 year plan was done, and although a 3rd one was started, it was interrupted by the war. ...read more.

Conclusion

Overall I think that the people of Russia did suffer a lot under Stalin's rule. They had to cope with bad conditions and fear of being arrested. They worked to the extremes under industrialisation and had to give up land during collectivisation. They were denied freedom of speech and movement. But I think the benefits did outweigh the suffering. Russia was gaining more money through collectivisation, and farming methods did seem to be improving. Industrialisation meant Russia had more raw materials to export, and everyone had a job even during the depression. This was a push Russia needed to modernise industries. People moved out of country sides into towns and cities where they could work. There was also fewer illiterate people. Ultimately, the biggest achievement was winning the Second World War. I thin that this would have been impossible without Stalin's changes. Russia would not have been well equipped and had the necessary raw materials without all these changes. They would also have not been trained well. Russia was now more in line with other. If Germany had won the war, Russia would have been worse off than it was under Stalin as the people did not fit in with Hitler's supreme race. They would have been used just as slaves, and the 5 million Jews living in Russia would have been killed. I think that the Russians avoided that because of Stalin. So in my opinion, the suffering that the Soviet people went through was worth the progress made under Stalin. ...read more.

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