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Stage 2 Modern History: Essay Student Response

2820 words - 12 pages

To what extent did Stalin have a devastating impact on the Russian people and the Soviet Union during the period 1928-1938?
Joseph Stalin ruled the Soviet Union as a virtual dictator between 1928 and 1954. During the first ten years of his rule Stalin introduced dramatic change to the Soviet Union in the areas of industrialisation, agriculture, culture and education. While there were some benefits for both the nation and the people with respect to the consequences of his policies on industrialisation and education, the impact of his policies regarding agriculture, and culture was overwhelmingly damaging to the Russian people, and consequently, the nation as a whole. Therefore, it can be said that between 1928 and 1938 Stalin had a largely devastating impact on the people, but a less damaging one on the Soviet Union itself.
To a large extent Stalin’s transformation of the Soviet Union into a strong industrial nation had a positive effect on the nation. This was required as the Soviet Union was 50 to 100 years behind the world’s major industrial powers at that time. Stalin’s transformation of the Soviet Union into an industrial nation was achieved through the introduction of a series of five year plans designed to develop the Soviet economy. The first Five Year Plan was introduced in 1928. This plan required heavy industry such as coal, steel and oil to triple their output. Light industry including furniture, clothes and shoes needed to double their output. To facilitate this increase, electrical production was to increase sixfold. [Brooman, J 1988. p. 10] The enormity of this unrealistic task meant that “The atmosphere of Russia became feverish with effort.” [Baker, P, P and Basset, J, J 1988. p. 25] However, by the end of 1932, while failing to meet the required targets, an incredible increase in industrial production was accomplished. The output of oil, for example, increased from 11.7 to 21.4 millions of tonnes, the output of steel increased from 4 to 5.9 millions of tonnes, and the output of coal increased from 35.4 to 64.5 millions of tonnes. [Brooman, J 1988. p. 11] The second Five Year Plan which ran from 1932 to 1937 produced similarly spectacular results. Between 1932 and 1937 the output of oil in millions of tonnes increased from 21.4 to 28.5, the output of steel in millions of tonnes increased by 5.9 to 17.7, and the output of coal in millions of tonnes increased from 64.3 to 128. [Brooman, J 1988. p. 11]
From this it can be seen that “There is no doubt that under the Five Year Plans Russian industry was boosted enormously.” [Baker, P, P and Basset, J, J 1988. p. 25] It is clear the Stalin’s policies on industrialisation were effective in transforming the Soviet Union into a great industrial power in the world. As well as this, there were some benefits for the Russia people, as hard work was generously rewarded with better conditions, higher pay and superior housing. [Brooman, J 1988. p. 12] Furthermore, the Soviet workers were...

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