First Five Year Plan

How far did the first five year plan differ from the second and third five year plans?

The first five year plan of1928-32 was created by Stalin for the ideological reason of rapid industrialisation and to boost the Russian economy to catch up with and protect from western cultures. While the second plan of 1933-37 and third year plan of 1938-41 stayed the more or less the same in their social outcomes and success/failures and their poor implementation but differed in the details of their priorities.

The priorities of the first five year plan differed significantly to those of the second of and third year plans, despite the priority of heavy industry continuing throughout them all. The priorities of the first year plan was to industrialise rapidly, due to fear of invasion and being as Stalin stated in 1931 being ‘crushed’ by the western cultures, due to attacks seen on communists in China and the British raid on the Soviet Union, both in 1927.

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Therefore the main priority was to focus on heavy industry and raising production of coal, steel, iron and oil. Another main priority was to abandon the NEP, introduced in 1924, in order to rid of the remaining capitalists in the country, such as the Nepmen and the bourgeoisie specialists who benefited from the system, which had become unpopular both within and outside the majority of the communist party. This created some social equality, of which whilst attempted lacked in the second and third year plans.

This differed slightly from the second year plan in the way that its initial main priority was to re-establish production of consumer goods that had been lacking in the 1st Five year plan.

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However in 1933 this later changed back to heavy industry seen in the first plan and military spending in response to German rearmament. The first year plan differed majorly from the third year plan as this focused entirely on German rearmament for impending attack and became refined as it was focused on creating a war economy, where money was not put back into the economy but into providing Russia with vital weapons instead. The priority was no longer geared towards industrialisation but based solely on military production for rearmament due to World War 2 in 1939. Although the initial priority of heavy industry remained a backbone throughout all of the plans in some way, the first five year plan differed to the second and third in the way there priorities became geared towards military spending and rearmament rather than focusing on increasing the overall economy towards industrialisation.

The first year plan did not significantly differ to that of the second and third year in terms of it outcomes. In the first year plan one of the main outcomes was Russia’s economic growth at 14% per year. Added to this was the outcome of a major increase in raw material produce such as coal increasing from 35.4 millions of tonnes in 1928 to 64.3 by 1932. This did not differ from the second year plan in which raw material production still increased and in the third year plan this increased again from 128 millions of tonnes to 166 million. Another outcome of the first year plan was lack of quality of the goods produced. Although large quantity was seen, many of the workers were unskilled and pressured due to large quotas from the GOSPLAN and fear enforced through the Shakhty show trials, therefore much of the focus of the first year plan was on quantity and consequently much of the produce made was useless and left to deteriate.

Consequently massive economic inefficiencies were seen both in the first and second year plans. This did not differ from what was seen in the second year plan, as sabotage and manipulation of numbers were still seen, and in the third year plan most of this was abandoned to focus on military spending, so although industrial production rose, labour productivity remained low throughout each of the plans. In terms of social outcomes the plans were all similar in the way they lacked any progress in this field. The conditions were either just poor or nonexistent. For example the lack on consumer goods produced was seen throughout all of the plans.

Whilst the second year plan aimed initially to increase consumer production, this was soon overshadowed as Hitler’s new role of chancellor in 1933 meant that the plan was soon geared towards rearmament and therefore the outcome was again lack of consumer produce. This was seen again in the third year were consumer goods lacked so much that even basics such as shoes were hard to get hold of that workers were given poor quality ones that broke after a couple of days wear. Therefore in terms of outcomes the plans did not differ much.

In terms of their successes the five year plans differed to a large extent. On the one hand the first five year plan had very similar economic success to that of the others such as the raw materials increase. They all saw economic success in the way there was industrial growth. However one of its main successes was the education reformation to meet the needs of the new inexperienced workers. Also the first plans successes differed in the way that the urban population trebled and existing members of the working class were promoted. This differs from the second in the way that one of the second five year plans successes was the Stakhanovite movement of 1935. Due to the first year plans labour force weaknesses the movement was a propaganda method to increase the workers motivation and match the fourteen times the average coal output that Alexei Stakhanov produced. This was successful in increasing labour productivity and therefore differs from that of the first.

This also differs from the third plan as harsh discipline was put in place and terror was introduced instead as a method for increasing labour productivity. All three plans saw the same failures to a large extent as they all involved chaotic planning and had little idea on how production could be efficiently increased. For example all plans fell at the expense of unrealistic targets set by the GOSPLAN and consequently manipulation of production figures and hoarding of resources seen in the first plan was carried into the second plan. Social failures seen in the second and third plans also did not differ much from the inequalities seen in the first.

In the first year plan the industrial city Magnitogorsk was built. Whilst the urban population grew this meant there was a housing shortage for the workers and therefore many lived in huts and suffered poor living conditions. The third year plan saw even more social failure as Stalin purges meant many of the specialists were executed and their experience lost, creating chaos. Also due to the poor standards of living many workers choose to move jobs. However Stalin out an end to this by introducing the internal passport system in 1940 to prevent workers from moving from job to job. These all meant that the workers lacked incentive and therefore labour productivity, and all three plans were examples of slave labour due to high unrealistic targets.

In conclusion the first year plan differed slightly in the way that the second and third refined their priorities from heavy industry to solely focus on military spending and creating a war economy instead of the initial priority of industrialisation. However the overall inefficiencies seen by the chaotic planning and poor implementation of all the plans, combined with their social failures, such as the lack of consumer goods produced and poor living conditions meant that the first five year plan did not differ to the second and third to a massive extent.

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First Five Year Plan. (2017, Jan 04). Retrieved from

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