When you think of Joseph Stalin, you rarely think about any good things he did. After all, his dictatorship resulted in more than 40 million dead people in Russia. He founded Gulag, a system of labor camps operating from 1930 to 1955 in which many people died.
Stalin consolidated his power after Lenin’s death in 1924. The Georgian revolutionary and political leader ruled the Soviet Union from 1927 until his death in 1953. He served as both General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Soviet Union.
Stalin built an autocratic leadership centered around himself. The historiography of Stalin is diverse. There are a lot of negative things. But there are also some good things he did for the Soviet Union, the predecessor of modern Russia.
Looking at modern Russia and former soviet states, more than 90% of it was planned or built or invented during Stalin’s reign. Think of any Soviet product, the jet, the submarine, museum, school, factory, vehicle, television, AK47, a nuclear bomb, or anything else, they came during Stalin times.
Today, we will look at some of the positives of Stalin’s reign.
Stalin changed the Soviet economy by launching the first in a series of five-year plans to modernize agriculture and build new industries from the ground up. When Stalin came to power, he took over a poor and destroyed by the war rural territory. In about one decade, he turned it into one of the strongest industrial countries of the time.
Following World War II and before Stalin’s death, USSR was growing three times faster economically than the United States. Take that into account. By some estimates, if Stalin continued to rule, by 19970, the Soviet Union could have become a twice larger economy than the US.
You can look at this information as well. In 1920, gold reserves in the Soviet Union constituted only 300 tons. By Stalin’s death in 1953, the USSR had 2050 tons of gold.
Stalin implemented a reform of free apartments for everyone. Every family got an apartment sooner or later. When people started leaving Russia in 1990, they actually sold their apartments they got for free back in soviet times.
Nowadays, apartments in Moscow cost for hundreds of thousands of dollars. During Stalin times and after, people got them for free.
When Stalin came to power, the Soviet Union was a fairly backwoods and largely illiterate peasant country. They knew nothing of military and power. But Stalin transformed the country into a world superpower with nuclear and space capability.
One of Stalin’s greatest inventions is the T-34 tank. The legendary tanks was innovative and simple enough for countries to produce in large numbers.
And then think that all parts had to be produced. So, Stalin built factories and other complex machinery factories to produce the parts for the tank.
The Soviets introduced the tank in 1940 and deployed it with the Red Army during World War II against Operation Barbarossa.
T-34 possessed many advanced design features for the time, it could blow German Panzers to the ground. German generals called the tank “finest in the world”. T-34 had more powerful cannon than German tanks, higher top speed, and superior sloped armor.
With the improved economy in Soviet Russia, quality of life increased as well. Majority of the population was illiterate and had no access to healthcare. Child and mother mortality rates were high. Living conditions were awful.
From 1913 to 1950, mortality rate fell from 29 per 1000 to 10 per 1000. That is nearly three times. Child mortality rate fell from 268 per 1000 to 81 per 1000 from 1913 to 1950.
In the Soviet Union, there were only 4,000 schools in 1913. By 1940, the USSR had more than 65,000 schools. There were only 400 high education institutions in 1914, and that number rose grew to 4600 in 1940.
Literacy rate from 20% in 1913 rose to 89% by 1932. Stalin and Bolsheviks presented impressive educational projects. They wanted to make education accessible for everyone and built schools. Before that, education had social and class restrictions. Women were limited in terms of education.
Granted, Stalin wanted to make schools accessible to everyone to improve his propaganda lessons. But still, he opened schools in almost every village in Russia.
Another aspect of quality of life, safety, also improved during Stalin. Rates of annual pure alcohol consumption fell to 1.9ll pp by 1950. There was no narcotics use and issue. Stalin exterminated prostitution and the country had very low crime rates.
He cracked down on crime heavily. Career criminals were given hefty sentences.
During Soviet Russia in Stalin times, sleeping in the street and homeless people was unheard of.
How did Stalin improve quality of life? By transforming peasants into workers. Here are some information regarding occupation of citizens in USSR.
- Workers from 11% in 1913 to 37% in 1956
- Medicine and education from 1 to 9 percent from 1913 to 1956
- Retail from 13 to 11 percent from 1913 to 1956
- Peasants from 75 to 43 percent from 1913 to 1956
We said before that Stalin made sure the amount of doctor workers in the country increased. In 1913, there were only 19.8 doctor per 1000 citizens in the country. Just one year after he came to rule in 1928, that number increased to 63. And by 1956, three years after his death, that number was 329.
Think about this for a moment. The Moscow metro system remains one of the most beautiful and organized in the world. Stalin built it. Famous for its underground architecture, more than 40 of the 200 stations are listed as cultural heritage sites. Each station has its own decoration.
For people in 1935, it was unbelievable to see the launch of the Moscow metro system. The same Russia 20 years before that was an agricultural country in the middle of a World War.
We have to say that Stalin pushed USSR into an extremely accelerated period of industrial and scientific advancement. The question is, at what cost. His methods and the price paid by the Russian people and other people in the federation were terrible. Millions died in Gulags. Millions died from induced starvation.
He viewed people as insects, and most of his grand plans were to feed his manic ego. But there is no denying that he managed to improve quality of life in Russia.
When Stalin came to power, he said that the Soviet Union had to industrialize and do it fast. Without it, the Nazis would have steamrolled into the Soviet Red Army all the way to Kamchatka.
We can say whatever we want about Stalin, but there is no denying he eviscerated the only bigger evil than him, Nazism and Hitler.
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