Coursework Mr Groves
Assess The Impact Of Stalin On Russia And The Russian People?
Now that Stalin was in power, he was determined to modernise the USSR so that it could meet the challenges which were to come. He took over a country in which almost all the industry was concentrated in just a few cities and whose workers were unskilled and poorly educated. Many regions of the USSR were in the same state as they had been a hundred years earlier. So, Stalin wanted to make a few changes and believed that: “Throughout history Russia has been beaten again and again because she was backward” and that the USSR was “50 to 100 years behind the advanced countries. Either we make good the difference in ten years or they crush us” so in order to do this Stalin ended Lenin’s NEP because he believed is was such a slow process and needed a dramatic change for Russia to become a world power. So Stalin set about achieving modernisation through a series of Five-Year Plans which was for towns and industrial workers and also made a modernisation plan for peasants and countryside’s throughout Russia. This was called collectivisation.
The Five-Year Plans were originally drawn up by the GOSPLAN, the state planning organisation that Lenin set up in 1921. They set ambitious targets for production in the vital heavy industries (coal, iron, oil, electricity). The plans were very complicated but they were set out in such a good way that by 1929 every worker knew what he or she had to achieve: GOSPLAN set overall targets for an industry, each region was told its targets, the region set targets for each mine, factory etc , the manager of each mine, factory etc set targets for each foreman, the foreman set targets for each shift and even for individual workers est. The first Five-Year Plan focused on major industries and was very ambitious. Tough targets resulted in the USSR’s increased production and created a foundation on which to build the next Five-Year Plans. The USSR was rich in natural recourses, but many of them were in remote places such as Siberia. So whole cities were built from nothing and workers were taken out to new industrial centres. Also the first Five-Year plan achieved targets in around the 4th year including an effective impact with propaganda. Stalin had wanted the Soviet Union to be a beacon of socialism and his publicity machine used the successes of industrialisation to further that objective. Not only that but new dams and hydro-electric power fed industry energy requirements. However, there was a bad side to this plan. Many people began to suffer as towns were being expanded rapidly in numbers of people living with no basic facilities like transport/ houses or medical facilities, making it very poor living conditions to live in. Also there was a big rationing and many people were running short on food supplies.
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The second Five-Year Plan (1933-1937) built on achievements of the first. Heavy industry was still a priority, but other areas were also developed. Mining for lead, tin, zinc, and other materials were strengthened as Stalin further exploited Siberia’s rich material recourses. Transport and communications were also boosted, new railways and canals were built. The most spectacular showpiece project was the Moscow underground railway. Stalin also wanted industrialisation to help improve Russia’s agriculture. The production of tractors and other farm machinery increased dramatically.
Stalin needed grain production to rise. So in order to do this, Stalin introduced a policy of collectivisation. The land was farmed by peasants who used mostly old fashioned methods and they were happy the way they were. Stalin needed to get his hands on the peasant’s grain so that he could sell it for export, not only that but the industrial workers needed cheaper food, this meant that they would need to be paid more. The peasants resisted because they didn’t want to loose there land what the NEP had just given back to them. Stalin seized the land by sending out an army. Stalin used the Kulaks as a reason to take there land. He used it as an opportunity to stir up class hatred between the peasants. By the end the 1920s, the kulaks were basically wiped out. Eventually, around 14million people joined these farms. Many peasants were labelled kulaks and sent to labour camps. When collectivisation was complete, Stalin could treat the peasants as slave labour. It is accepted that Stalin deliberately caused this famine to crush the resistance of the peasants. Despite the famine, Stalin did not ease off. By 1934 there were no kulaks left. By 1941 almost all agricultural land was organised under the collective system. Stalin had achieved his aim of collectivisation .It’s estimated that 5 million people died as a result. Although his aim was achieved as he introduced collectivisation, but the production remained below pre-1914 level until the 1950s. There was also an amazing number of human life’s left dead.
However, Stalin’s huge changes in the industry and agriculture made Stalin millions of enemies. He dealt with these by using his secret police force to eliminate them. He used the Yezhovs NKVD to crush any opponents or potential threats. They arrested and shot hundreds of thousands of people from different ranks in society. Stalin personally chose hundreds of the people who were to be killed. The victims included party officials and army leaders, which proved to be a bad move as the army lacked officers to command them in world war two. These murders were called “the reign of terror”. The victims of the great terror who were not executed were sent to labour camps. These camps were located in remote areas of the Soviet Union. The prisoners were used as slaves and did a lot of the work in the five year plans. Slowly but shortly millions of these workers were worked to death as they couldn’t cope with the awful conditions. Under Stalin, the soviet citizens weren’t allowed to have their own opinions. The state told them what to say. In schools people were taught communist versions of history. Propaganda majorly influenced nearly every aspect of life. Radio, films, newspapers and every other aspect of the media were controlled by the state. The states messages were everywhere to be seen in Russia. Stalin was pictured as a god to the Russian people. They saw him as a genius. As a result of the propaganda, the whole nation was scared to speak against Stalin. Stalin now had complete control over Russia. His tactical moves had the nation living in fear of him.
Stalin also had different effects on different sections of society. One if these were ethnic minorities. In Stalin reign the non-Russian nationalities of the soviet-union were at first allowed to preserve their own cultural traditions and identities. But this policy was then replaced in 1934 with the policy of russification. This encouraged ethnic minorities to see themselves as soviet citizens instead of their own separate nationalities. The Russian language was made a compulsory subject in school. Russia was also made the official language of state organisations like the army. Also many people were encouraged to migrate to non-Russian areas in the Soviet Union. During the changes many leaders of ethnic minorities were targets for persecution and the Soviet Unions disapproval of different religions forced them out of communities.
Many civilians thought that the USSR would give women the same rights as men. They were brought to thinking this through the way propaganda showed them as equals. The state encouraged marriage and parenthood and awarded women who had more than 10 children with medals. Abortion rights were taken away. But in the work places women had as much power as men. This got in the way of the traditional values they wanted women to keep. The Soviet Union stayed male dominated whilst Stalin was in power. Not a single woman was in high office whilst Stalin was in command.
In conclusion, Stalin’s work on the peasants proved to work. This was due to the harsh system of collectivisation. Stalin was a very naive when it came to the Russian peasants. He didn’t care about them as people but was able to use them as a leap to complete power. The effect of collectivisation was harsh on the peasants. When it came to industrial workers the 5 year plans improved there living conditions and gave them better wages, but there housing was poor. Overall he had a positive effect on them because they got free medical and free education. This was better than what they had before. Army officers, managers and party leaders did well. These were the social elite in the USSR. So overall he made the people living in cities life easier but he killed several peasants and made there life’s unhappy .As a conclusion, Stalin had negative and positive effects on his people. His policy on peasants was very harsh and he didn’t treat them as equals. On industrial workers, there life’s got made a lot better. They were being paid steady wages with lots of free health care and education. Although there housing was poor they were earning better money for a easier job. As for the social elite, there life’s got made easier. But they were sometimes the victims of the purges made by Stalin.
Here's what a teacher thought of this essay
This is a secure response, with a good level of subject knowledge and a balanced and evaluative account of Stalin's impact. There is a good level of detail but statistics and dates could have been used more frequently. A few grammatical errors. 4 stars.