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By 1929, Stalin had become sole leader of Russia.
He said, "We are between 50 and 100 years behind the west. We must
make good this difference in 10 years or go under."
He wanted things to change in Russia quickly and so he brought up the
five year plans, these were to modernise the Russian economy. He also
brought up the idea of collectivisation. This was to modernise Russian
These two things would transform Russia. Stalin had "borrowed"
Trotsky's ideas, which was very ironic.
Stalin introduced the five year plans because he wanted to
industrialise the Soviet Union, he felt it was matter of life or
death. If his plans failed he believed the Soviet Union's enemies
would crush it. He wanted rapid industrialisation; this was what
Trotsky had wanted! Stalin gave the responsibility of devising the
plans to GOSPLAN, the state planning bureau. The idea was that the
state would decide targets for industrial production, and would use
central planning and direction of the nation's resources to achieve
the priorities set out in each plan
The first five year plan was launched in 1928. It was to b focused on
building up heavy industry's like coal and steel. Propaganda was used
to try to make the workers finish in just four years. The targets were
tough but enormous increases in production were achieved. The first
five year plan was a success.
The second five year plan (1933-7) concentrated on improving things
like transport and production of machinery.
The third five year plan (1938-41) ran for only three and a half years
before it was interrupted by war.
More and more resources were transferred into defence related
industry's. When war broke out in 1941, Germany was attacking the
world's second greatest industrial power. Fifteen years before, Russia
had been a backward agriculture nation.
Russia would not have survived against Germany without the changes
which the five year plans had brought.
Collectivisation was an attempt to reorganise Russian farming.
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peasants would have to work on the collective farms (Kolkhoz). It was
very unpopular. The peasants were reluctant to change their way of
Stalin had two reasons for wanting change in the countryside:
1) He needed to get his hands on the peasant's grain so he could sell
it for export. Using foreign currency this would get him a lot of
money to buy vital equipment for industry.
2) The industrial workers needed cheap food. If the peasants
controlled grains sales, they would try to keep the price high. This
meant that industrial workers would need to be paid more.
The peasants continuously rebelled against collectivisation, so Stalin
sent in the army and secret police to terrorise them. In the end they
co-operated, they had no choice really.
The purges are not something for Stalin to be proud of. As many as
20million Russians may have died as a result of Stalin purges. People
would have been killed, worked to death or deported.
The victims of these purges were Kulaks (wealthy farmers), plant
engineers and foreman-accused of sabotaging the five year plan.
Show trials were held for the leading Bolsheviks in 1936. The leading
Bolsheviks were Zinoviev, Kamenev, Rykov, Tomsky, Buckharin, and
Yagoda. These people were made examples off.
Sergi Kirov, the head of the Leningrad party died in 1934. In 1938 75%
of army officers were murdered. This had a serious effect on the
performance of the Red Army in the first two years of world war two.
Religion played a big part in Russian lives. The Orthodox Church had
dominated the lives of most Russians.
Stalin outlawed the Church, buildings were destroyed, priests were
publicly humiliated and forced to confess that they had been lying and
other religions (such as Islam's and Buddhist) were persecuted too.
There was a greater impact in the countryside.
Many people would turn to God in tough times, but Stalin took God
away, it was as if Stalin was God, because he had the power to take
Education was something Stalin was keen on. He wanted his country to
be able to read!
Stalin introduced free compulsory education for everybody. Literacy
In 1900 25% of people could read.
In 1925 40% of people could read.
In 1940 75% of people could read.
This was a big increase and Stalin had done well to get 75% of people
reading by 1940.
Some Russians regard Stalin as the greatest ever leader, and some
don't. He had done some good things as leader of Russia, and some bad
things. He introduced free education, won the war against Germany,
industrialisation in just 10 years and he was very popular. However he
had killed off religion, introduced collectivisation and then there
was the purgesâ€¦