Stalin's Five Year Plan

By: Andrew Chase, Kyle Sweda, and Nathan Fulgham

The First Five Year Plan

This plan concentrated on the development of iron and steel, machine-tools, electric power and transport. Joseph Stalin set the workers high targets. He demanded a 110% increase in coal production, 200% increase in iron production and 335% increase in electric power. He justified these demands by claiming that if rapid industrialization did not take place, the Soviet Union would not be able to defend itself against an invasion from capitalist countries in the west.

The Second Five Year Plan

Stalin expanded the goals of his previous plan and placed an emphasis on heavy industry. This plan aimed to advance the Soviet Union’s communication systems, especially railways, which improved in both speed and reliability. This plan incorporated newer methods of increasing production, including incentives, punishments, and the introduction of childcare, which motivated mothers to work and further contributed to the plan’s success. The Second Five Year Plan focus shifted toward military goods and heavy industry. The lower availability and quality of consumer goods hurt the economy. Oftentimes, factories inflated their production figures, and the products created were too low in quality to be used.

The Third Five Year Plan

The Third Five Year Plan lasted for only three years, as it was interrupted by Germany’s declaration of war on the Soviet Union during World War II. As war seemed imminent, this plan focused on the production of weapons and other wartime materials. The Soviet Union mainly contributed resources to the development of weapons, and constructed additional military factories as needed. Stalin continued to implement additional Five Year Plans in the years following WWII, in an attempt to keep his promise in 1945 to make the Soviet Union the leading industrial power by 1960. By 1952, industrial production was nearly double the 1941 level. Stalin’s Five Year Plans helped transform the Soviet Union from an untrained society of peasants to an advanced industrial economy.

The Success of the Five Year Plans

The success of the Five Year Plan was that the Soviet Union began its journey to becoming a world superpower through industrialization. The Five Year Plan also began to prepare the Soviet Union to win in the Second World War. Without the initial five-year plan, and the ones that followed, the Soviet Union would not have been prepared for the German invasion in 1941. Due to the rapid industrialization of the plan, the Soviet Union was able to build the weapons it needed to defeat the Germans in 1945.