How Successful Were the Five-Year Plans in Transforming the Russian Industry in the Years to 1941 Essay

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How successful were the Five-Year Plans in transforming Russian industry in the years to 1941? Between 1928 and 1941, Russia was transformed from a semi-capitalist rural society to a highly industrialized, urbanized society. The Five-Year Plans set out an agenda for all of Russia to follow; this agenda was focused around collectivization, lines of transport and communications, rearmament and most importantly, heavy industry; all with the notion of increasing productivity by achieving unattainable goals set out by the Gosplan. The first Five-Year Plan focused mainly on generating more output, with significant emphasis on agricultural production (collectivization) and heavy industry. Indeed, this appeared to be effective as Russia's economy exceptionally grew by 14% per annum. Production of essential commodities such as iron and coal also drastically increased between 1928 to 1932, from 3.3 to 6.2 and 35.4 to 64.3 million tonnes, respectively. Also, the program of 'proletarian advancement' alone created around 150,000 jobs and as a result, the urban population trebled as peasants moved to the cities to work in Soviet industry. However, although production increased under the first Five-Year Plan, the Soviet economy in fact suffered terribly to meet the unrealistically set targets of production. As a result, great inefficiency and low labor productivity came about and the focus on scale meant that much of what was being produced was in fact unusable. The second Five-Year Plan differed considerably from the First, production targets were more realistic and there was a greater attempt to develop the economy in a more rounded way. As such, the focus was shifted from heavy industry to communications, electricity, new industries and consumer goods as well. The shift resulted in continued expansion of raw materials production and a trebled output of steel; It also

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