After the Second World War, the emphasis was on reconstruction, and Stalin in 1945 promised that the USSR would be the leading industrial power by 1960.
Much of the USSR at this stage had been devastated by the war. Officially, 98,000 collective farms had been ransacked and ruined, with the loss of 137,000 tractors, 49,000 combine harvesters,7 million horses, 17 million cattle, 20 million pigs, 27 million sheep; 25% of all capital equipment had been destroyed in 35,000 plants and factories; 6 million buildings, including 40,000 hospitals, in 70,666 villages and 4,710 towns (40% urban housing) were destroyed, leaving 25 million homeless; about 40% of railway tracks had been destroyed; officially 7.5 million servicemen died, plus 6million civilians, but perhaps 20 million in all died. In 1945, mining and metallurgy were at 40% of the 1940 levels, electric power was down to 52%, pig-iron 26% and steel 45%; food production was 60% of the 1940 level. After Poland, the USSR had been the hardest hit by the war. Reconstruction was impeded by a chronic labour shortage due to the enormous number of Soviet casualties in the war.Moreover, 1946 was the driest year since 1891, and the harvest was poor.
The USA and USSR were unable to agree on the terms of a US loan to aid reconstruction, and this was a contributing factor in the rapid escalation of the Cold War. However, the USSR did gain reparations from Germany, and made Eastern European countries make payments in return for the Soviets having liberated them from the Nazis. In1949, the Comecon (Council for Mutual Economic Aid) was set up, linking the Eastern bloc countries economically. One-third of the Fourth Plan's capital expenditure was spent on Ukraine, which was important agriculturally and industrially, and which had been one of the areas most devastated by war.
By 1947, food rationing had ended, but agricultural production was barely above the 1940 level by1952. However, industrial production in 1952 was nearly double the 1941 level.
Rise to power
Main article: Rise of Joseph Stalin
Stalin played a decisive role in engineering the 1921 Red Army invasion of Georgia, following which he adopted particularly hardline, centralist policies towards Soviet Georgia, which included the Georgian Affair of 1922 and other repressions. This createda rift with Lenin, who believed that all the Soviet states should stand equal.
Lenin still considered Stalin to be a loyal ally, and when he got mired in squabbles with Trotsky and other politicians, he decided to give Stalin more power. With the help of Lev Kamenev, Lenin had Stalin appointed as General Secretary in 1922. This post allowed Stalin to appoint many of his allies to governmentpositions.
Lenin suffered a stroke in 1922, forcing him into semi-retirement in Gorki. Stalin visited him often, acting as his intermediary with the outside world. The pair quarreled and their relationship deteriorated. Lenin dictated increasingly disparaging notes on Stalin in what would become his testament. He criticized Stalin's rude manners, excessive power, ambition and politics,and suggested that Stalin should be removed from the position of General Secretary. During Lenin's semi-retirement, Stalin forged an alliance with Kamenev and Grigory Zinoviev against Leon Trotsky. These allies prevented Lenin's Testament from being revealed to the Twelfth Party Congress in April 1923.
Lenin died of a heart attack on 21 January 1924. Again, Kamenev and Zinoviev helped tokeep Lenin's Testament from going public. Thereafter, Stalin's disputes with Lev Kamenev and Zinoviev intensified. Trotsky, Kamenev and Zinoviev grew increasingly isolated, and were eventually ejected from the Central Committee and then from the Party itself. Kamenev and Zinoviev were later readmitted, but Trotsky was exiled from the Soviet Union.
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