To what extent did the development of the Cold War influence Stalin’s policies inside the USSR?
Up until 1945 the tensions between the USSR and the USA had been covered by the fact that both sides were trying to fight against Hitler and therefore relations up until the war had been relaxed. However this changed after 1945 the victory against Germany brought them international superpower status giving them more control and influence over many countries especially in Eastern Europe. As a result Stalin changed and adapted policies accordingly to increase competition with the USA; both countries were fearful of each other hence why Stalin concentrated on things such as industry and ignoring agricultural production for example. I will explain what and why the cold war influenced Stalin’s policies inside the USSR and come to a conclusion.
My first point is that Stalin focused his efforts even more on the development of industry than ever before. The reason why Stalin did this was to rival the USA’s superpower status and therefore they focused on quantitative rather than the qualitative side of industry. Stalin wasn’t worried if the products they produced were any good as long as they met the 5 year plan targets then he believed he could compete with the USA. This showed as according to the statistics every planned target in 1950 was apparently met e.g. the coal target was 250 million tons which they surpassed and reached 261 million tons. Even the figures may have been exaggerated it is clear that the Stalinist approach had worked in terms of recovering from the war as well making significant progress in terms of producing goods.
My next point is again to do with industrial production, but more specifically how they focused on heavy industry and capital goods in order to help with defence and the production of nuclear weapons. In 1950 industrial production was almost up by 75% compared to 1940. The most significant increases were in the production of capital goods such as coal and steel which were important in terms of everyday living. Defence was also an important sector in the USSR as it received the most favourable treatment in the allocation of resources, including skilled labour. The reason why Stalin concentrated on these things was because he wanted to carry out the task and maintain their new superpower status. Stalin was also fearful of the USA and the UK because they had refused to share information with him on the atom bombs which increased the tensions further between them and the USA. But because of Stalin’s drive to carry through heavy industry and concentrate particularly on their defence he was able to use his skilled labour and eventually managed to produce their own bomb by 1949.
Another change to policies inside the USSR was to do with social policies and more specifically the campaign against cosmopolitanism. The reason why Stalin approved of the campaign against cosmopolitanism was because he feared anything from the Western world and he was particularly scared of what would happen in Leningrad as it was known as the “window to the West” where Stalin believed foreign influences was most likely to enter the USSR. He therefore opposed and banned things such as jazz music which was seen as something that was particularly Western. It wasn’t just that though as what was known as the “Leningrad purge” in 1948 where over 200 leading Leningrad party officials were either arrested or shot also occurred. Other things that were controlled because of the cold war tensions included controls on what was read as well as what was viewed at cinemas & theatres. But the campaign against cosmopolitanism was also linked with the increased anti-Semitism, the discrimination and violence against Jews. Other examples include the doctor’s plot where Jewish doctors were blamed poisoning Zhadnov and plotting Stalin’s death as well as banning marriages with foreigners. The reason why Stalin did this was because the cold war...
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