Pictured above is the construction of Magnitogorsk, or magnetic mountain which the article Seventeen Moments in Soviet History called the “socialist city of steel”. This construction was in accordance to the Five Year Plan which was designed to industrialize the USSR in the shortest time possible and expedite the collectivization of farms.
Magnetic Mountain was a plan by Stalin to change a predominately agricultural nation into a “country of steel”. This would not have been possible without the five year plan however, because as Azar Gat notes in his book Russia: A History, “For the first time, the state would not only intervene in economic relations but actually serve as the chief, even sole, manager of the economy” (344). This was just one of the various social, political, and economical changes that the U.S.S.R was undertaking under Stalin’s watch.
There were two very important elements within Bolshevism that allowed all of this change to happen. One was the belief that a collective human effort could accomplish transformative miracles. The other was revolutionary maximalism which together comprised a new political culture and reproduced some elements of backward Russia as Gat points out (345).
Back to Magnetic Mountain, it’s overwhelming to see the growth that took place in such a small amount of time. it grew from 25 inhabitants in 1929 to 250,000 by 1932. Housing could not keep up with this strong increase in population so newcomers had to be housed in tents and bed space was often assigned in shifts. Not only was housing a problem in Magnitogorsk, but food was also in short supply. As one can probably guess, the collectivization of farms and the massive push of industrialization from the Five Year Plan caused disruptions in the food supply which put added pressure on all of the workers.
As you can tell, The Five Year Plan was a huge change for the Soviet Union in all aspects of life. The growth of such places such as magnetic mountain allowed a massive industrial boom which the Five Year Plan promoted to get the U.S.S.R. back in the competition of world power with capitalist forces. There were definitely many issues that came with the establishment of the Five Year Plan, but overall it lead the people of the Soviet Union to think that the country was heading in the right direction.
Gat, Azar. “Russia: A History”. 3rd ed. Oxford University Press. 2009. Print.