Stalin was responsible for many good ideas. He wanted to modernize the USSR and as most of the industry was squeezed into just a few cities leaving the rest of this huge country in the same backward state it had been in a hundred years earlier, he realised that to be powerful he had to have more successful farming and industry as well as military power. He ended Lenin’s NEP (New Economic Policy) and set up a series of five year plans setting targets for the production of coal, oil and electricity in each region.
Huge steel mills and dams were built wherever there was a natural resource and towns were built around them. Other countries were impressed and amazed at the speed at which these industries were started and made successful. In 1930 Stalin had realised that there was a general shortage of workers and so he decided to get women in to work by setting up thousands of new cri?? ches and day care. By 1937 women made up 40% of the industrial workers, 21% of building workers and 72% of health workers. By 1937 the USSR was a modern state and a powerful one.
It was almost definitely that fact that saved it from defeat when Hitler invaded during the Second World War By the end of the 1930’s most Soviet workers had very much improved conditions and were well educated and skilled. There was almost no un-employment, unlike the West. ‘Collectivisation’ was Stalin’s idea to put all the agriculture into the hands of the local Communist Party leaders and away from the farmers. The farmers did not like this as they were being asked to stop producing grain to feed their families and instead to produce crops for industry.
The Kulaks, who owned their own land, refused to even hand it over and a long battle started. In 1936 Stalin created freedom of speech and free elections to the Soviet people (although only communist party candidates were allowed to stand). He ended capitalism and built an Eastern European Empire. However, as leader of the USSR; a country that covered a sixth of all the land area in the world, he had enormous power and ruled by terror for most of his years as Leader. If anyone disagreed with him publicly, he killed them.
He even killed former friends and allies who had helped him come to power in case they knew too much about him or could threaten him later. In all, Stalin is held responsible for the death of millions of peasant farmers and Kulaks who did not agree with his Collective Agriculture policies. He ruled as a dictator and kept the Soviet Union apart from most of the rest of the world, keeping all foreigners out. He created a system of government based entirely on fear felt by every living citizen and his policies created a privileged class that took advantage of all of the rest of the people.
Stalin was responsible for millions of deaths during the battles of the collectives; through the forced labour camps, the mistakes he made in the Second World War and just his personal campaign of violence and vengeance. So was Stalin ‘necessary’? Could his modernisation/industrial revolution and military success have happened without the use of his violent and brutal Stalinist methods? It is equally as arguable both ways and possibly would have happened without Stalin but maybe not as quickly.