First Five-Year Plan
The First Five-Year Plan, or 1st Five-Year Plan, of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 (USSR) was a list of economic goals that was designed to strengthen the country's economy between 1928 and 1932, making the nation both militarily and industrially self-sufficient. "We are fifty or a hundred years behind the advanced countries. We must make good this distance in ten years. Either we do it, or they will crush us," Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee...

 said in 1931, making his motivation in formulating the plan much clearer and more pressing later on. Launched by the Soviet regime in 1928 and administered by the Gosplan
Gosplan or State Planning Committee was the committee responsible for economic planning in the Soviet Union. The word "Gosplan" is an abbreviation for Gosudarstvenniy Komitet po Planirovaniyu...

, the First Five-Year Plan employed tactics such as keeping detailed records on every item manufactured in the nation and shipping it to where it needed to go at the right time.

One of the primary objectives of Stalin's First Five-Year Plan was to build up the country's heavy industry
Heavy industry
Heavy industry does not have a single fixed meaning as compared to light industry. It can mean production of products which are either heavy in weight or in the processes leading to their production. In general, it is a popular term used within the name of many Japanese and Korean firms, meaning...

. In 1929, Stalin edited the plan to include the creation of kolkhoz
A kolkhoz , plural kolkhozy, was a form of collective farming in the Soviet Union that existed along with state farms . The word is a contraction of коллекти́вное хозя́йство, or "collective farm", while sovkhoz is a contraction of советское хозяйство...

, collective farming
Collective farming
Collective farming and communal farming are types of agricultural production in which the holdings of several farmers are run as a joint enterprise...

 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 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, known as Holodomor
The Holodomor was a man-made famine in the Ukrainian SSR between 1932 and 1933. During the famine, which is also known as the "terror-famine in Ukraine" and "famine-genocide in Ukraine", millions of Ukrainians died of starvation in a peacetime catastrophe unprecedented in the history of...

, that killed millions of people. 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 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; to add to this problem procurements of food were up by 44%. Agricultural production was so disrupted that famine broke out in several districts.

The introduction of collectivization spurred industrialization in the nation as millions of people, of the 80% of the total population that was engaged in agriculture, moved from the country into the city. Despite many of the targets being unbelievably high (a 250% increase in overall industrial development, with a 330% percent expansion in heavy industry), remarkable results were achieved:
  • Pig iron: 6.2 million tons (compared to 3.3 million tons in 1928, and a prescribed target of 8.0 million tons)
  • Steel: 5.9 million tons (compared to 4.0 million tons in 1928, and a prescribed target of 8.3 million tons)
  • Coal: 64.3 million tons (compared to 35.4 million tons in 1928, and a prescribed target of 68.0 million tons)
  • Oil: 21.4 million tons (compared to 11.7 million tons in 1928, and a prescribed target of 19.0 million tons)
  • Electricity: 13.4 billion kWh (compared to 5.0 billion kWh in 1928, and a prescribed target of 17.0 billion kWh)

However, while the plan encouraged industrialization, it damaged Soviet agriculture to such an extent that it didn't recover until after the Second World War. The plan was considered by the Soviet leadership so successful in this sense that the second Five-Year Plan was declared in 1932, lasting until 1937.

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. 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. This production shift undoubtedly aided Soviet goals but caused what was perhaps not the only example of upset during this time of change.

See also

  • Five-Year Plans for the National Economy of the Soviet Union
    • Ninth Five-Year Plan (Soviet Union)
      Ninth Five-Year Plan (Soviet Union)
      The Ninth Five-Year Plan of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was a set of economic goals designed to strengthen the country's economy between 1971 and 1975...

    • Tenth Five-Year Plan (Soviet Union)
      Tenth Five-Year Plan (Soviet Union)
      The Tenth Five-Year Plan, or the 10th Five-Year Plan of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a set of goals designed to strengthen the country's economy between 1976 and 1980. The plan was presented by the Chairman of the Council of Ministers Alexei Kosygin at the 25th Congress of the...

    • Eleventh Five-Year Plan (Soviet Union)
      Eleventh Five-Year Plan (Soviet Union)
      The Eleventh Five-Year Plan, or the 11th Five-Year Plan, of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was a set of goals designed to strengthen the country's economy between 1981 and 1985...

    • Economy of the Soviet Union
      Economy of the Soviet Union
      The economy of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was based on a system of state ownership of the means of production, collective farming, industrial manufacturing and centralized administrative planning...

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