To What Extent Did Witte Achieve Economic Modernisation in Russia?

849 Words4 Pages
To what extent did Witte achieve economic modernisation in Russia? Sergei Witte was introduced as the Tsars financial minister at a time when Russia was in a state of social and economic backwardness. Witte successfully achieved economic modernisation in Russia to a certain extent. Witte’s policies lead to a ‘Great Spurt’ in economic modernisation as they increased the number of factories and led to vast improvements in infrastructure such as railways. However his policies were still very limiting as they did not address the backwardness of agriculture and caused frequent famines, leading to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people; keeping Russia economically and socially far behind the great European powers. Witte ensured the construction of the trans-Siberian railway in an attempt to achieve economic modernisation; this would run for 7000 kilometres across the empire from St Petersburg to Vladivostok on the Pacific Ocean. This enterprise would require a colossal feat of engineering; and would revolutionise Russia’s transport system, it would require huge sums of money beyond the domestic means of the Russian economy; to overcome this Witte acquired loans from western and central Europe, ensuring the railway was properly funded. The railway allowed peasants to migrate to developing towns and farm on new lands mitigating ‘Land Hunger’ making Russia one step closer to industrialisation. The railway gave Russia access to Siberia and its vast resources such as coal, oil and metal ores these were considered ‘capital goods’ and led to a 50% economic growth; However still trailing far behind the great European powers such as Austro-Hungary which had a 79% increase. However Witte increased taxes on the already financially crippled peasants further increasing their debt, as they still had to pay redemption fees alexander the ii inflicted upon them despite
Open Document