Were Stalin's Five Year Plans a Success?

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To what extent were Stalin’s five-year plans an economic success/improved the Russian economy?

When in power, Stalin realized that if Russia was to become a key player in the global market, the country needed to industrialize rapidly and increase production. To do this, Stalin introduced the Five-year Plans. Stalin's ultimate aim was to expand industrial production. For this, he developed three Five-year Plans between 1928 and 1938. In terms of meeting these aims economically speaking; the plan was broadly a success. Production of raw materials increased with coal and iron outputs doubling and defense armaments growing rapidly as resources were diverted to them. The five-year plans transformed the out-datedness of the country, creating a massive urban working class and trebling electricity production. As well as improving the economy and achieving military strength this expansion gave Russia enough strength to resist and eventually beat the powerful Nazis in 1941. In addition, the plan’s strengthened the economy, as there was 14% annual growth. USSR’s economic standing in relation to other countries improved.

However elements of the plans were less successful for the economy. As the plan itself basically consisted as a series of high production targets, Stalin expected them to be met. In reality, there was little coordination between industries meaning targets were not reached and fake production figures were delivered instead. Due to the strict expectation to meet said targets, producers focused on quantity rather than quality resulting in a large amount of wasted produce that were not manufactured correctly in a bid to save time and make as much as possible.

Not only did the plans improve the economy, to an extent they improved Stalin’s political status. The direct action he took enforcing the plans cemented his political leadership in the country and no longer allowed him to be seen as Lenin’s pupil. Furthermore, the five-year plans were the most...
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