Unit 4: The Stalin Revolution (1927


Unit 4: The Stalin Revolution


Introduction: Rapid Industrialization and Collectivization of Agriculture

“One feature of the history of old Russia was the continual beatings she suffered because of her backwardness. She was beaten by the

Mongol khans. She was beaten by the Turkish beys. She was beaten by the Swedish feudal rules. She was beaten by the

Lithuanian gentry. She was beaten by the British and French capitalists. She was beaten by the Japanese barons. All beat her – because of her backwardness, because of her military backwardness, cultural backwardness, political backwardness, industrial backwardness, agricultural backwardness… We are fifty or a hundred years behind the advanced countries. We must make good this distance in in ten years. Either we do it or we will perish.”

- Joseph Stalin, 1931

I. Economic Development: The First

Five-Year Plan (1928-1932)

Marxist theory did not specifically call for economic plans.

In 1921, the State Planning

Commission (GOSPLAN) was created to draft an economic plan for the country. It would become a prominent body in 1927.

The dictatorship of the proletariat in a land of peasants remained a sore inconsistency.

If, contrary to Marxist teachings, industries and workers were not there in the first place, they had to be created.


I. Economic Development: Why Was the NEP Abandoned?

NEP raised serious economic problems.

* Although Soviet industrial output reached pre-war

1913 levels in 1928, growth began to stagnate.

* Soviet Union needed more investment to spur production in the socialist sector. Economy lacked those funds.

* Peasants under-produced because their products were set artificially lower than industrial products.

Peasants were unwilling to produce more – no incentive. (The scissors crisis)

I. Economic Development: Why Was the NEP Abandoned?

2. Strong, lingering opposition to the NEP among many Communists.

* The persistence of capitalism, the continuation of poverty, the visible social presence of petty capitalists in the cities (NEPmen) and rich peasants in the countryside (kulaks) angered many.

* Un-heroic gradualism frustrated many.

Communist Frustration with NEP: From

“Cement” Fyodor Gladkov (1924)

'"I can't endure it, because i can neither understand nor justify....

We have destroyed and we have suffered-. A sea of blood- famine.

And suddenly- the past arises again with joyful sound.... And I don't know where the nightmare is: in those years of blood, misery, sacrifice, or in this bacchanalia of rich shop windows and drunken cafes! What was the good of mountains of corpses? Were they to make the workers' dens, their poverty and their death, more dreadful? Was it that blackguards and vampires should again enjoy all the good things of life, and get fat by robbery? I cannot recognize this, and I cannot live with it! We have fought, suffered and died- was it in order that we should be so shamefully crucified? What for?"'

I. Economic Development: The First

Five-Year Plan (1928-1932)

Many Communists were psychologically ready for a new, heroic march forward.

Stalin’s revolution from above provided them with jus that.

The Five-Year Plan promised that the

Soviet Union could become a truly socialist country without waiting for worldwide revolution. “Socialism in one country.”

I. Economic Development: The First

Five-Year Plan (1928-1932)

Rapid industrialization was necessary to protect the Soviet state from hostile enemies:

- The rise of Nazi Germany in Europe

- The rise of militarist Japan in the Far


I. Economic Development: The First

Five-Year Plan (1928-1932)

The 1 st FYP lasted from October 1, 1928-December 31, 1932 (4 years, 3 months).

- Very high targets were set and then revised even higher in this

“socialist offensive.”

The First Five-Year Plan focused mainly on iron and steel production.

- Metallurgical plants in the Ukraine pushed to maximum output.

- new complexes like Magnitogorsk in the southern Urals were constructed from scratch

So much of the First Five-Year Plan was focused on steel production that investment in coal, electrical power and railways lacked, causing fuel and power shortages.

I. Economic Development: The First

Five-Year Plan (1928-1932)

Tractor plants also had a high priority in the First Five-

Year Plan.

- immediately required for collectivization campaign

- tractor factories could easily be converted to produce tanks

• Machine-building, chemical, automobile, agricultural machinery, aviation, electrical industries were created either from scratch or virtually from scratch.

I. Economic Development: The First

Five-Year Plan (1928-1932)

86% of all industrial investment during the 1 st FYP went into heavy industry.

The tremendous growth in the production of industrial goods was accompanied by shortages of consumer goods (light industry).

Rationing of goods and other privations were extended to all of the people who were forced to work even harder than ever before.

Much more attention paid to quantity produced, not quality. Major problem that plagued Soviet economy was poor quality of goods produced, especially in light industry sector.

I. Economic Development: The First

Five-Year Plan (1928-1932)

To the Bolsheviks, planning and the state control of the economy were meant to bring the development of the economy under

Communist Party control to build socialism and to use resources efficiently.

The First Five-Year Plan was more improvisation than planning.

- Industry was exhorted to overfulfil the plan, not just meet it.

- 1929-1931: state planning agencies were being purged of

“Rightists,” ex-Mensheviks and bourgeois economists

I. Economic Development: The First

Five-Year Plan (1928-1932)

Results of the First Five-Year Plan:

- 93.7% of the plan was fulfilled

- heavy industry exceeded the quota –

103.4% fulfilled

- light industry – 84.9% of the quota

II. The Second and Third Five-Year

Plans (1933-1941)

2 nd FYP (1933-1937) / 3 rd FYP (1938 – interrupted by WWII)

Continued rapid industrialization with a greater emphasis on:

- military production

- producing more sophisticated machine tools, precision instruments, etc.

- allowed for a small increase of consumer goods production

II. The Second and Third Five-Year

Plans (1933-1941)

Results of 2 nd & 3 rd FYP’s:

• Soviet share of world production grew from

2.6% in 1913 (Russian Empire), to 3.7% in 1929 to 13.7% in 1937.

• Soviet Union jumped from 15 th place in the world in production of electricity to 2 nd place.

• The Soviet Union was second only to the U.S. in machine building, tractors, and trucks.

II. The Second and Third Five-Year

Plans (1933-1941)

What made Soviet economic achievements even more impressive was that the rest of the world (except Nazi Germany) was experiencing depression and mass unemployment.

III. Evaluation of the Plans (positive)

Greatly succeeded in increasing industrial production and creating NEW industries

Areas of the country (the north, the east) were incorporated into the economic life of the country for the first time.

The Red Army obtained a highly developed armaments base.

Industrialization and collectivization was LARGELY undertaken using internal manpower and financing.

III. Evaluation of the Plans (negative)

The cost of industrialization and collectivization was tremendous:

- the population suffered great hardships and deprivation of consumer goods

- inadequate housing

- increasingly large bureaucracy / low worker productivity

- poor pay / poor working conditions not unlike the industrial revolution in Britain during the 18-19 th centuries

- many of the major industrial / construction projects were undertaken by forced labor - GULAG

III. Evaluation of the Plans (negative)

The GULAG system:

• a vast system of penal institutions and labor camps with its own factories, construction companies, and even research laboratories that existed throughout most of the Soviet period. Gulags were located all over the former Soviet Union but primarily in Siberia.

• The GULAG system was made up of various “enemies of Soviet power.” In reality it was much more than punishment and incarceration of enemies.

It was a way that the Soviet Government could guarantee a steady supply of cheap labor to fulfill the needs of the Five Year Plans.

III. Evaluation of the Plans (negative)


• The system encompassed millions of people on the eve of WWII.

• Forced labor was used especially on huge construction projects, such as the Baltic-White

Sea Canal and for hard work under primitive conditions in distant areas, as in the case of the lumber and gold industries.

“Belomor Kanal”

(White-Baltic Sea Canal)

“Belomor Kanal”

(White-Baltic Sea Canal)

IV. Collectivization of Agriculture

The collectivization of agriculture represented the all important step from an individual and, therefore, bourgeois system of ownership and production to a collective economy and, therefore, to socialism.

The initial Plan had called for limiting collectivization to

14% of all land, the unexpected strong resistance on the part of the peasants led to an all-out attack against individual farming.

The collectives also gave the government control over the labor and produce of the peasants, enabling it to squeeze from them the necessary funds for industrial investment.

IV. Collectivization of Agriculture

Collective farm (Kolhoz)

- farm owned by all of its members

- had to deliver a certain quota to the State and was managed by the State

- members were also given small plots of land that they could use for private purposes

- collectives and the old communes were different: members of a commune owned the land in common but they farmed their assigned plots separately in their own traditional way.

- Organization and regimentation of labor became the essence of the collective farm

IV. Collectivization of Agriculture

State Farm (Sovhoz)

- essentially an agricultural factory owned by the State, with peasants providing hired labor.

IV. Collectivization of Agriculture

By the end of the 1 st FYP, more than 14 million peasant households joined collective farms.

68% of all cultivated land in the Soviet

Union was under collectives, 10% was under state farms, and 10% remained in private hands.

IV. Collectivization of Agriculture

Collectivization was fiercely resisted by the peasants. Authorities forced it upon them:

- about a million kulaks / 5 million disappeared in GULAGS all over the USSR.

- (1929-1933) peasants slaughtered their livestock rather than turning it over to Soviet authorities: horses: 34 – 16.6 million cattle: 68.1 – 38.6 million sheep and goats: 147.2 – 50.6 million hogs: 20.9 – 12.2 million

Droughts in 1931-1932 added to the horrors of collectivization

IV. Collectivization of Agriculture

By the beginning of WWII, collectivization was virtually completed.

- Slightly less than 250,000 kolkhozes replaced over 25 million individual farms.

- Famine, drought, and the excesses of the 1 st FYP did not reoccur.

- Agricultural production increased somewhat and food rationing was abolished in 1935.

Nonetheless, peasants regularly failed to reach their production quotas.

- They showed much more initiative on their private plots than on the collective farms.

As a result of collectivization:

- the number of families on the land diminished from 26,000,000 to


- about 24,0000 individuals left the countryside. About half moved to the towns. A part of the twelve million perished or were sent to camps, the other part moved to the Far East, Arctic or Central Asia.

V. Repression and “The Purges”

“Purges” of the Communist Party ranks had been a regular feature of Party life. Purpose:

- To “cleanse” the Party of careerists and those elements that were not own party state.

committed to the ideals of building

Communism but to promote their personal interests in a one-

• Stalin used Purges to rid the Party of any member that was thought to be a threat to his power or in opposition to him or his policies.

V. Repression and “The Purges”

The “Great Purges” began in December, 1934 with the assassination of the popular Leningrad party leader Sergei Kirov.

The “Great Purges” reached their highest intensity from 1936-1938.

The biggest victims of the “Great Purges” were not “bourgeois elements,” “White Guardists,” or other remnants of the old regime…..the biggest victims were…

V. Repression and “The Purges”

Three great public trials featured sixteen

Bolshevik leaders (Zinoviev & Kamenev – 1936; seventeen in 1937 and twenty-one in 1938 including Bukharin and Alexei Rykov).

Charges included espionage, wrecking, terrorism on behalf of imperialists, fascists, Trotskyism, plotting the murder of Stalin, overthrow of the

Soviet state, capitalist restoration, dismemberment of the USSR…

V. Repression and “The Purges”

The “Yezhovschina”

Nikolai Yezhov (1885-1940)

• Director of the NKVD at the height of the Purges (1937-


VI. Stalin’s System

1939 – By the Eighteenth Communist Party

Congress, only 20% of the membership were

“Old Bolsheviks” (members before 1917).

1934 – Seventeenth Party Congress – 80% were

Old Bolsheviks.

With the exception of STALIN, Lenin’s ENTIRE

Politburo had been wiped out.

Stalin’s Inner Circle

Kliment Efremovich Voroshilov (1881-1969)

People’s Commissar for Defense

Stalin’s Inner Circle

Vyacheslav Molotov (1890-1986) & Nikita Krushchev (1894-1971)

People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs / General Sec. CPSU after Stalin

Stalin’s Inner Circle

Anastas Mikoyan (1885-1978) & Sergo Ordzhonikidze (1886-1937)

Commissar of Foreign Trade / Commissar of Heavy Industry

Stalin’s Inner Circle

Lazar Kaganovich (1893-1991) Mikhail Kalinin (1875-1946) Andrei Zhdanov (1896-1948)

Head of Moscow CP President of Soviet Union People’s Commissar of Culture

Stalin’s Falsification of History

In Pictures

Lenin and Trotsky [center, top of stairs] celebrating second anniversary of the revolution in November 1919. A heavily retouched version was published in

1967. Trotsky has been air-brushed out.

Stalin’s Falsification of History

Above left, participants of the 11th Congress, Moscow, 1922. Left of Stalin is Grigorii Petrovsky, and Sergo

Ordjonikidze. When this photo was taken Stalin had just been appointed General Secretary. The retouched photo on the right was published in connection with Stalin's 60th birthday in 1939. There is no longer room for

Petrovsky or Ordjonikidze. Petrovsky was sacked from the Central Committee in 1928, accused of having connections with "enemies of the people." Notice how Ordjonikidze has moved closer to the Boss.

Stalin’s Falsification of History

In Pictures

Original photo included from left to right: Anippov, Stalin, Kirov, and Shvernik. Taken in Leningrad in 1926, celebrating the defeat of Zinoviev's anti-Stalinist opposition. The photo of three reveals the disappearance of

Antipov [the chandelier has also been eliminated]. Antipov had joined the Bolsheviks in 1912, chairman of the

Petrograd Cheka in 1918, and later prime minister Molotov's secretary. Arrested and sent to prison where he was the last Stalinist cadre to be shot in August, 1941. In the next picture, Shevernik was erased when the photo was used in 1949 for a short biography of Stalin. Finally, an oil painting by Brodsky based on the original photo. Stalin the executioner alone remains.

Stalin’s Falsification of History

In Pictures

Outside the Bolshoi Theater in May, 1920. On the steps to the right we can see Trotsky, with Kamenev partly obscured behind him. The falsification of this photograph is probably the first and certainly the most famous example of Stalinist retouching. The original photograph, achieved icon status, while Lenin was still alive and

Trotsky still had power. After Trotsky's downfall, the photograph was never again shown in its entirety in the

USSR. Even during the Gorbachev period the photo was cropped to eliminate Trotsky and Kamenev.

Stalin’s Falsification of History

In Pictures

This group shot, taken at the 14th Party Conference in April, 1925 is a classic example of

Stalinist photographic manipulation. Only one of Stalin's comrades in this picture would die from natural causes. The same photograph published in 2 biographies of Stalin that appeared in 1939 and 1949, has been retouched and rearranged to reduce the group to four, 60% of those present were erased from history.

Harvest of the Collective Farm

Combine Operators

Friendship of the People

“Motherland” Posters