First Five-Year Plan (Soviet Union)

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Stand dedicated to the First Five-Year Plan in Moscow. 1931 colour photo by Branson DeCou.

The First Five-Year Plan, or 1st Five-Year Plan, of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) was a list of economic goals, created by General Secretary Joseph Stalin and based off his policy of Socialism in One Country. It was implemented between 1928 and 1932.

In 1929, Stalin edited the plan to include the creation of kolkhoz, collective farming systems that stretched over thousands of acres of land and had hundreds of peasants working on them. The creation of collective farms essentially destroyed the kulaks as a class, and also brought about the slaughter of millions of farm animals that these peasants would rather kill than give up to the gigantic farms. This disruption led to a famine in Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan as well as areas of the Northern Caucasus. Besides the ruinous loss of life, the introduction of collective farms allowed peasants to use tractors to farm the land, unlike before when most had been too poor to own a tractor. Government owned Machine and Tractor Stations were set up throughout the USSR and peasants were allowed to use these public tractors to farm the land, increasing the food output per peasant. Peasants were allowed to sell any surplus food from the land. However the government planners failed to take notice of local situations. In 1932 grain production was 32% below average;[1] to add to this problem procurements of food were up by 44%. Agricultural production was so disrupted that famine broke out in several districts.[2]

Because of the plan's reliance on rapid industrialization, major cultural changes had to occur in tandem. As this new social structure arose, conflicts occurred among some of the nomadic populations. In Turkmenistan, for example, the Soviet policy of collectivization shifted their production from food crops to cotton.[3] Such a change caused unrest within a community that had already existed prior to this external adjustment and, between 1928 and 1932, Turkmen nomads and peasants made it clear through methods like passive resistance that they did not agree with such policies.[3]

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  1. ^ Robert Conquest, The Great Terror, 1971
  2. ^ R. W. Davies, Soviet History in the Gorbachev Revolution (Macmillan, London, 1989)
  3. ^ a b Edgar, Adrienne (2004). Tribal Nation. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. p. 296. ISBN 0-691-11775-6. 

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