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Why did Stalin industrialise the USSR? How did he do it? What were the results? Think about these questions as you read through the historical sources. You can use this worksheet to help you with your study.

Stage 1: Why did Stalin industrialise the USSR?

Choose what you think are the 3 most important reasons for the rapid industrialisation led by Stalin. Explain why you think each reason was important. Can you find evidence in the original sources to back up your argument?

You can choose from this list or you can think of your own reasons:

  • To become very strong in order to defend the USSR against capitalist countries
  • To make products to sell to other countries
  • To gain personal glory for Stalin
  • To give all Russians a higher standard of living
  • To make communism very popular in the USSR
  • To help the country recover from wars and revolutions
  • To control those in the USSR who were against Stalin
  • To make the USSR less reliant on imports of manufactured goods from other countries

Record your reasons on this research table. Open the table and print it out or save it to your computer.
Research table

Stage 2: Five Year Plans

What can we find out from the targets in the Five Year Plans? Read the original sources in Case Study 2: How did Stalin industrialise the USSR? Use the information in these sources to answer the questions on the spreadsheet.

Open the spreadsheet and save it to your own computer. Then you can continue to work on it.

Stage 3: Assess the results

Some of these statements are about successes, some are about failures and some are about the costs of collectivisation or industrialisation.

  • The USSR could defend itself in World War 2.
  • Millions of kulaks died.
  • Many useful public works were built.
  • Peasants who became factory workers didn’t know how to use new equipment.
  • The countryside was 75% collectivised.
  • The USSR became the second most powerful nation in the world.
  • There was famine in 1932-33.
  • Millions of political prisoners went to labour camps.
  • The output of heavy industry rose.
  • There were very few consumer goods for people to buy.
  • Agricultural output initially decreased.
  • People worked under strict discipline.

1. Identify which are costs, which are failures and which are successes. Sort the statements into the correct columns on the recording sheet below.

2. What sources from case study 3 give evidence to support your choice? Note these in the relevant column on the recording sheet.

3. Are there any more points that you can add to the ones we’ve listed? Add at least 3.

4. Which policy do you think was more successful: collectivisation or industrialisation?

Note your answers on this recording sheet. Open it and print it out or save it to your computer.
Recording sheet