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Economic Policy Change In Soviet Union From 1941 To 1986

1206 words - 5 pages

Economic Policy Change in Soviet Union From 1941 to 1986

The period 1941 - 1986 saw little change in the Russian economy,
although attempts were made at reform by Khrushchev, for example, with
his 'Virgin Lands' scheme.

I believe that economic policy did not change between the years 1941 -
1986 but the change was often quickly reversed and change was not
carried out to a great enough extent to have any significant bearing
on the development of the Russian economy.

Russia was almost destroyed by the efforts needed to sustain a war.
Even though the first, second and third Five Year Plans had been
heavily concentrated on the heavy industries such as coal and steel,
which proved to be essential in the survival of the Soviet Union,
Russia still suffered almost unbearable losses. Over 20 million Soviet
citizens had died, 25 million Russians were left homeless and loss of
agricultural and industrial areas totalled one third of Russia's
national wealth.

The war years saw a relaxation of Stalinist policy. It seemed that
Stalin was willing to compromise his ideology to ensure Russia emerged
from the war victorious. The atmosphere in Russia became less
repressive. This change meant that the Russian Orthodox Church,
previously ostracised and censored, was able to operate freely. This
was allowed as the Orthodox Church was supportive of the Russian army.
As well as collecting money, they also blessed troops going into
battle, which in turn increased the morale of the people. In addition
to this, the laws on collectivisation were relaxed, allowing peasants
to grow food for their own use. This eased the burden on the
centralised system and allowed Stalin to concentrate more on the
demands of war. After an initial drop in productivity, industry
recovered and a huge increase in production occurred. The need for
labour and troops was intense and between 1941 and 1944 the gulag
population decreased by two - fifths. Able - bodied men were
conscripted from the collectives and women were left to care for the
farms. Grain production fell from 95 million tons in 1940 to 30
million tons in 1942. This was a huge drop, and famine was common,
particularly in the Ukraine and Siberia, where loss of life was most
severe.

The more relaxed attitude of Stalin during the wars years had nurtured
a belief that life would be easier and less repressed after the war.
However, this proved not to be the case. The Fourth Five Year Plan was
intended to restore Russia's pre - war reputation as an industrial
power. Industrial production recovered quickly, mainly through the use
of over 2 million slave labourers. The rigid centralised economy
imposed by Stalin was useful in this instance as it became easier to
organise workers and factories. The Fifth Five Year Plan was
concentrated slightly more on the...

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