Soviet Union Leader: Joseph Stalin Essay

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Joseph Stalin’s three decade long dictatorship rule that ended in 1953, left a lasting, yet damaging imprint on the Soviet Union in political, economic and social terms. “Under his inspiration Russia has modernised her society and educated her masses…Stalin found Russia working with a wooden plough and left her equipped with nuclear power” (Jamieson, 1971). Although his policies of collectivisation and industrialisation placed the nation as a leading superpower on the global stage and significantly ahead of its economic position during the Romanov rule, this was not without huge sacrifices. Devastating living and working standards for the proletariat, widespread famine, the Purges, and labour camps had crippling impacts on Russia’s social…show more content…
Slave labour from the gulags was used for large-scale engineering projects, with a total of eight million prisoners by 1938. Overall, the initial Five Year Plans were an economic and political success for the Soviet Union, however the shocking social oppression that came with it overshadowed this advancement. Adding to the deplorable oppression borne by the proletariat during the Five Year Plans, Stalin introduced a collectivisation campaign which not only sparked a persecution of kulaks, but also induced a widespread famine. The Stalin government’s compulsory agricultural policy was largely a failure with regard to its goals. Beginning in 1929, all farms were to be collectivised, with the aim of improving agricultural output and hence, industrialisation. The USSR’s initial system of farming was inefficient, but the introduction of fertilisation and tractors modernised agricultural techniques, increasing the nation’s capacity for production, supporting Historian Jamieson’s statement. However, the policy was catastrophic due to the mass movement of peasant resistance that saw farmers defiantly burning crops and slaughtering livestock, regarding the campaign as a violation of their freedom. By 1933, agricultural production fell dramatically; grain by 17 million tonnes and cows and pigs by a total of 23 million, to below what it was in 1913 (Downey, 1989, p. 19). This
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