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Stalin’s plan for rapid industrialization of the Soviet Union can be divided up into three parts.
First, Stalin achieved industrialization through centralized control of the economy. He ordered that the economy should shift its emphasis from consumer goods to heavy industry. This was in response to his own political goals, not to demand from the Russian people. Stalin simply ordered the creation of many new heavy industrial factories. This required people to change jobs and even to move to new areas of the country where Stalin needed them as workers in the new industries.
Second, Stalin achieved industrialization in part through forced labor. Of course, many Soviet citizens were true believers in the communist cause and were eager to do what Stalin asked. Others were more skeptical but went where they were told. However, there were also large numbers of people who were sentenced to work in labor camps. They were common criminals and political criminals. They were forced to work, often in brutal conditions.
Finally, Stalin achieved industrialization through forced collectivization of agriculture. Collectivization moved some peasants from rural areas into industrial work. It also displaced millions of “kulaks” who generally went into the labor camps. The process of collectivization was also supposed to increase productivity so as to produce the food needed to feed all the new industrial workers. This, however, did not happen right away and many in the countryside starved as crops were taken to feed the workers.
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