Industrialization of the Soviet Union

Propaganda for Industrialization

  • Joseph Stalin came to power in the mid-1920s when the Soviet Union was a vast but majorly under-developed country. (9)
  • “He was seen as the man who turned an undeveloped and divided nation into an industrial super power “ (9)
  • The society was based on agriculture with very little industry. (9)
  • Events like World War 1, two revolutions in 1917 and civil war made a huge impact on the state of the economy. (9)
  • “In November 1927, Joseph Stalin launched his ‘revolution from above’ by setting two extraordinary goals for soviet domestic policy: rapid industrialization and collectivization of agriculture.” (6)
  • In “1928, Stalin began a state-run programme of rapid industrialization”. (9)
  • “Factories were built, transport networks developed and workers were encouraged, even forced to work harder”. (9)
  • Stalin’s goal was to turn the economy around, making the USSR more competitive with capitalist countries. (9)
  • He wanted to erase all traces of capitalism and transform the Soviet Union into an industrialized and socialist state as quickly as possible, no matter the monetary cost. (6)
  • To make the changes he acted ruthlessly, he was hated and feared as a dictator.(9)
  • “… It is possible that 20 million people died during Stalin’s reign”. (9)
  • Stalin was also adored by many, glorified in countless newspapers and films. There streets named after him and statues of him erected around the USSR. (9)

Introduction of the 5-year plan

After Stalin got rid of his rivals, he created a five year plan to help the industries and the economy of Russia, Even though the plan is made to help Russia, it was not easy on the people of in it. 'The people were given no leave and absenteeism was treated as treason. Many workers had to slog for 11 hours! However, none of them revolted, as they knew their wages were paid in food rations, which meant they would DEFINITELY not eat if they did not work…Human examples were used. One man was said to be working at a rate 500% more productive than the average worker. Of course, most of these figures were exaggerated and the people were killed by jealous workers.’ (4)

"Although successful at times the five year plans were largely unsuccessful because of the extreme militaristic tactics used to increase production." (2)

Propaganda promoting Stalin's Five Year Plans
Dams were one of the various structures built during while the plans were in action

"Other countries are 50 years ahead of Russia. We must make this up in 10 years." (7)

When did Stalin create the 5-year plan?
  • "Between 1928 and 1938" (7)
  • During this time, three Five Year Plans were developed. (6)

What is the 5 year plan?
  • "A series of plans that Stalin dubbed" (7) as the 5-year plan.

Why did Stalin create the 5-year plan?

  • “Stalin realized that if Russia was to become a key player in the global market, the country needed to industrialise rapidly and increase production. To do this, Stalin introduced the Five-year Plans”. (6)
  • "Production from heavy industries was still low compared to other countries." (7)
  • "The USSR needed to invest in materials like coal, iron, steel, and power" (7)
  • "The agricultural sector had to be modernized" (7)

During the Five Year Plans:

  • Targets were drawn up for the production goal in different industries. The first two plans focused on improving heavy industry - coal, oil, steel and electricity. (1)
  • Unrealistic goals were set -- a 250% increase in overall industrial development and a 330% expansion in heavy industry alone. (6)
  • Because a great share of investment was put into heavy industry alone there was a widespread shortage of consumer goods. (6)
  • "Education schemes were introduced to train skilled, literate workers". (1)
  • Most structures were built out of prison labor. (2)
  • "Workers were forced to work not only out of fright but would lose housing and food rations if unemployed". (2)
  • "Modernization in agriculture was created by collective farms." (2)
  • Collective farms forced peasants to live off whatever meager payment meted out to them by the government or what was left of the crop. (2)
  • "The second five year plan created in 1932 aimed to triple coal, iron and steel output." (2)
  • "The success of the second five year plan put an end to food rationing and the USSR became a major world economic power." (2)
  • "The third five year plan (1938-1941) focused on the USSR and it's role in World War Two; due to the problems in mobilizing troops in World War One a special effort was made to ensure that Russia's transportation systems was running and efficient." (2)

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"The plan was acheived in four years, and not five as scheduled."(7)
"Dams were created and other major projects also led to the improvevment of Russia."(7)
"Roads, railways and canals were constructed."(7)
"Russia was able to increase manufacturing and thus make more ample preparations for war in future."(7)

The People

Russian Workers

  • "The Five year plan was not all the successful if we talk in terms of the social aspects present in Russia at that time" (7)
  • "The 'kulaks', rich peasants created by Land Reforms in 1906, were destroyed as a middle class from starvation or death. " (2)


Social aspects (7)
Harsh working conditions for the workers(7)
Standard of living.(7)
Many deaths(7)
Farming (7)

Relation to Animal Farm

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  • In Animal Farm by George Orwell, the windmill represents Stalin's 5 year plan.
  • In chapter 6 of Animal Farm it says "All that year animals worked like slaves. But they were happy in their work; they grudged no effort or sacrifice, well aware that everything that they did was for the benefit of themselves..." (p.42)
  • "In January food fell short. The corn ration was drastically reduced, and it was announced that and extra potato ration would be issued to make up for it. Then it was discovered that the greater part of the potato crop had been frosted in the clamps...Starvation seemed to stare them in the face." (p.52) chapter 7, this relates to the famine that went on in Russia during the five year plan.
  • The quote on page 92 , "All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others", relates to the way the people of Russia were treated during the execution of the Five Year Plans. Although everyone was helping to advance in industrialization, some citizens were given more difficult tasks than others.
  • "They were always cold, usually hungry as well." (p. 51) this quotes relates to the workers and the harsh conditions they were forced to work in.

Starvation victim

  1. BBC. (2012). Stalin-The Five Year Plans. Retrieved From

2.) Cambridge, M. (n.d.). Reign of Stalin—Five Year Plans. Retrieved From

3.) Joseph Stalin. (2012). In Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieve from

4.) J.V. Stalin.(2009).In Retrieved from

5.) Marrin, A.(2006). Joseph Stalin. In The World Book Encyclopedia (Vol. 18, pp. 824-828).
Chicago: World Book Inc.
6.) Orwell, G. (1946) Animal Farm. New York: Harcourt Brace & Company.

7.) Revelations from the Russian Archives. (2010). Collectivization and Industrialization. Retrieved From

8.) Oracle ThinkQuest.(n.d.).In Retrieved from

9.) Search Beat.(2012). In Retrieved from

10.) The National Archives. (n.d.). Joseph Stalin and the industrialization of the USSR. Retrieved From