Stalinism’s Impact on the Soviet Union

The Second Five-Year Plan (January 1933-December 1937) was Stalin’s next attempt at transforming the Soviet Union. The main objectives of the Plan centered around improving the nation’s industry.  When first drafted, the plans followed the “same ‘great leap forward’ psychology” that was present in the First Plan. This mentality did not last, however, as the Second Five-Year Plan was downsized due to famine and other “terrible events” that occurred in 1933 (Freeze 358). As a result, the new Plan focussed on “assimilation and mastery of technology” instead of simply increasing production overall. Moreover, as stated by Vyacheslav Molotov, the Second Five-Year Plan took aim at the “elimination of the struggle between town and country” and “a higher level of cultural development” (Turin 62).

The Second Five-Year Plan Took Aim at Assimilation and Mastering Technology

This Second Plan, along with its predecessor, impacted the peasant-turned-workers in multiple different ways. While the rise in workers who were peasants in the past is perhaps the most obvious change, another apparent difference was the increase in discipline that these new workers faced from the Soviet state. This punishment, often referred to by Bolsheviks as “labour discipline,” was dominant throughout the 1930s as millions of peasants now joined the new-look workforce.

Another impact of the Second Five-Year Plan was a massive decrease in the output and quality of agriculture crop return during the 1930s. This came while the other industries prepared for war by producing weapons and machinery. In turn, “investments in the collective and state farm system remained woefully minuscule” (Freeze 372). This contributed in shifting the movement away from “building socialism” and towards “Stalinism” (Freeze 373). 

 

Freeze, Gregory L. Russia: a History. Oxford University Press, 2009.

Stalin. “From the First to the Second Five-Year Plan: A Symposium by V. Molotov STALIN, L. Kaganovich, Oseph on Lorne Bair Rare Books.” Lorne Bair Rare Books, International Publishers, www.lornebair.com/pages/books/29679/v-molotov-stalin-l-kaganovich-oseph/from-the-first-to-the-second-five-year-plan-a-symposium.

Turin, S. P. “The Second Five Year Plan.” The Slavonic and East European Review, vol. 11, no. 31, 1932, pp. 58–64. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/4202738. Accessed 5 Apr. 2020.

9 Replies to “Stalinism’s Impact on the Soviet Union”

  1. I thought your post was very interesting and informative. I know a lot about the first five year plan but not much about the second one. I find the shift to a focus on mastery technology over just increasing production as very interesting, as it would be something the Soviet Union would struggle with for the rest of its history.

    1. Hey De’Vonte,
      Yeah, I think that this plan, along with the struggles that occurred while it was implemented, are kind of reflective of what the Soviet Union would endure throughout the next 60 years of its existence. Thanks for your comment!

  2. One of the things Im most interested about Soviet history is Stalinism’s high impact upon the Soviet Union. Your post does a great job of highlighting the economic policy under Stalin in the 1930s. I remember reading that Stalin wanted to kickstart the economy because he knew that the Soviet Union was decades behind the West in technology and economics, and he felt that this weakness could be used against the Soviets in a potential showdown with the West in the future. Great post!

    1. Thanks, Chris! Yeah, I thought that this Plan, in particular, was interesting due to its timing at the start of a famine and right before World War II so it all contributed in impacting the Plan’s success.

  3. A very great read about the second year plan and like some of the other comments about the first year but not the second. It also shows how much pressure they were putting on the lower class to provide for their nation into the future but that would wear on your nationalism which could explain the end of the USSR as well.

    1. Thanks, Chase! Yeah, I think that the peasant-workers were the main group that carried the Soviet Union to the level that they eventually reached.

  4. Michael, I enjoyed your post. It’s interesting how drastic the change was in the two plans. It seems like power in the communist party started to come together during the second plan. I also thought it was interesting how the second plan focused on technology and quality over just quantity.

  5. Hey Michael, all I really wanted to say was that your post about the Second Five Year Plan was very well researched and I think you were able to capture the entire essence of it very well. The Second Five Year Plan was very important to the industrialization of the Soviet Union, however, it had disatrous consequences in particular the First Five Year Plan almost certainly was a big cause of the famine from 1932-1933.

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