Joseph Stalin’s Five-Year Plans were designed to bring the Soviet Union into the modern age.
Stalin believed that heavy industry could propel the Soviet Union into the ranks of the world’s industrialized nations.
To achieve this rapid industrialization of the Soviet Union, Stalin developed the Five-Year Plans, which laid out specific targets for production including energy, raw materials, and the production of goods, for a span of five years.
By having one Five-Year Plan followed by another, it was Stalin’s hope that the Soviet Union would modernize and develop into a great power.
The first Five-Year Plan began in 1928. It sought to increase the output of coal, iron, and oil, and establish electric power, telephones, and railroads.
In addition, it sought to develop heavy industries such as metallurgy, chemical production, and automobile manufacturing, while simultaneously supporting the development of light industry such as textiles and machine-building.
This Five-Year Plan was largely successful and, by 1932, industrial production had been restored to pre-war levels.
The second Five-Year Plan, launched in 1933, called for a further increase in industrial production and declared that the Soviet Union would now have achieved a greater level of economic growth than the United States.
It focused on energy production, public transportation, and defense.
Following its completion in 1937, industrial production had increased by nearly 40 percent.
The third Five-Year Plan was set in motion in 1938 and was labeled as a ‘war mobilization plan’ due to Stalin’s belief that the Soviet Union was facing an imminent threat of war from Nazi Germany or Japan.
This plan focused on developing heavy industry, such as machine tools and tractors, as well as on increasing production of weapons and defense materials.
In order to stabilize the Soviet Union’s economy, each of these plans also contained subsidies for food, housing, and consumer goods.
This allowed for improved living standards and sustained a level of economic growth that the Soviet Union experienced for many years after Stalin’s death.
From a historical perspective, Stalin’s Five-Year Plans helped to turn the Soviet Union from a largely agrarian nation to one of the world’s most powerful and industrialized states.