In the USSR, the first five-year Plan began in 1928. The Revolution and Civil War ended in 1922 Oct (the "main phase" according to wikipedia). That's, coincidentally, a five-year gap.

So I would like to know what industrial work, if any, was done in that intermediate time of 1923-1927. I don't really understand why they took 5 years before starting a serious heavy industry project or priority. If the Civil War was over in 1922 then, as far as I can see, they should be starting the rebuilding immediately.

Did they actually have heavy industry projects during that time? Did it compare to the first 5-year plan? Or was this just the result of Stalin finally consolidating enough power to push his version of industry? Or they didn't have enough skilled engineer students?

What heavy industrial work was done 1923-1927? And why did the official industrial 5YP not begin until 1928?

  • 1
    What research have you already done, which sources have you consulted and what did they have to say - for example, a history of foreign concessions during the '22-'28 period?
    – SPavel
    Commented Aug 31, 2022 at 18:41
  • @SPavel Never heard of that book. I don't think i've ever seen a book or article dealing with USSR industry of 23-27, except agriculture. Closest thing would be wikipedias article on the First Five Year Plan which has a little history but doesn't really set the stage of pre-existing industry (except maybe agriculture). Whenever i search, i see almost everything is talking about the Five Year Plans. This leads me to believe there was no heavy industry in 23-27, so i want to ask about it here.
    – DrZ214
    Commented Aug 31, 2022 at 18:52
  • Right - consolidating power, reinstalling civil control, getting capital to invest, all that happens instantly so heavy industry can begin again?
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Sep 1, 2022 at 1:06
  • I think you can start with en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GOELRO
    – jmster
    Commented Sep 1, 2022 at 6:38
  • Apart from repairing infrastructure, you just do not build heavy industry without preparing a lot. For example, (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dnieper_Hydroelectric_Station), "Construction began in 1927". Do you think they did chose the site, make the plans, and gather the tools, manpower and materials needed just in 1927? See that, as @jmster, it also points out to GOELRO.
    – SJuan76
    Commented Sep 1, 2022 at 6:40

1 Answer 1


As mentioned in the comments, GOELRO - State Plan for Electrification of Russia - was officially adopted on 1920-12-22. (Incidentally, the preparations started even before the revolution).

It was not as ambitious as the 5y plans for several interrelated reasons:

  • No local money: the Civil War was devastating
  • No foreign money: Bolsheviks repudiated Czar's foreign debts, so foreigners did not want to invest in Russia (and 1920ies was a boom time in the West)
  • The Bolsheviks did not consolidate their power in the society yet - many people still hoped for their collapse
  • The Bolshevik party itself was highly heterogeneous and different factions fought over the correct economic policy

By 1928

  • The NEP fed Russia - the "kulaks" could be robbed to get money internally.
  • OGPU suppressed all popular dissent
  • Intra-party factions (L, U) were largely suppressed, Stalin consolidated his power with help of Buharin, Rykov, Tomsky &c

This made it possible for Stalin to launch Collectivization and Industrialization (and get rid of Buharin et al in the process).

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