In 1931, Joseph Stalin, the leader of the Soviet Union, determined that Russia would not continue as a ‘backwards’ agrarian country, had already implemented his first Five Year Plan. This set draconian targets for the expansion of Russia’s coal, steel, oil and gas industries, with emphasis on Ukraine, the Volga region and the east. Stalin was prepared to use force to make the peasants work in the mines, factories and building railroads. Those that resisted (Kulaks) were shot or sent to gulags (prisons), with many used as slave labour. In 1933, Stalin introduced his second Five Year Plan, like the first but with more exacting targets. Workers were given unrealistic quotas and medals were awarded to ‘heroes’ who vastly exceeded their quotas. By 1937, coal, steel, oil and gas production had more than trebled, cities had grown and factories were producing armaments and tractors.
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