Revolutionizing the Soviet Economy: Iron

The first Five-Year Plan facilitated a dramatic change in the Soviet economy through the collec7177246tivization of agricultre in orde to enhance the country’s industrial capabilities. From the period of 1928-1940, the number of Soviet workers in industrial occupations grew from roughly 4.6 million to 12.6 million with a staggering increase in factory output. Among other orders, Stalin demanded a 200% increase in iron production and 335% increase in electrical power, and set his laborers to work with firm restrictions. This was due to the strong emphasis the administration placed on domestic machinery and metals.

“The Story of the Great Plan” by Ilya Marshak captures the “romance” of construction that captivated Soviet youth and adults during this period’s cultural upheaval. Marshak describes how the country must move away from relying on European and American industries for procuring machinery and and other industrial initiatives. He writes that Europe and America “do not like [their] plans,” and “[they] realize that we are building socialism, and that socialism will bring an end to profiteering” on Russia’s lack of domestic industry. Therefore, the capability of constructing Soviet-made machinery was a paramount initiative at the time.

Marshak’s description of Soviet agricultural collectivization and industrialization highlights the political decision of Stalin’s at the time which was the eradication of any trace of capitalism in the Soviet economy. These policies were considered highly successful despite the social implications they had on wealthier peasants, or kulaks. Over five million kulaks were deported due to the virtually complete privatization of property. In addition, collectivization brought about a massive famine that which brought about over four million deaths.


Additional Sources:

“Mass Culture in Soviet Russia” pp. 172-177

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