From New Times (Moscow) No. 19, May 6, 1953.
Conclusion. For first installment see New Times No. 18, April 29, 1953.

Building the Industrial Base for Socialism in the European People’s Democracies

P. Suslin

Overtake and Outstrip!

The People’s Democracies are leaping from backwardness to progress in the same way that the Soviet Union did in the course of its industrialization. This task, in application to Bulgaria, was formulated several years ago by G. M. Dimitrov as follows: “Our task is, by industrializing and electrifying the country and mechanizing agriculture, to make good the time lost in the past and to achieve in ten or twenty years that which other countries required a whole century to achieve.”

What G. M. Dimitrov said of Bulgaria applies to all the People’s Democracies, with the exception of Czechoslovakia, whose technical development lagged less behind that of the most industrially advanced capitalist countries.

Before the war Bulgaria was a typical agrarian country, with only the faintest traces of industry. Its principal pursuit was agriculture; but it was extremely fragmentized and poorly equipped, the soil was exhausted and scientific farming was practically unknown. Bulgaria’s fascist-monarchist regime and its semi-colonial subjection to the big capitalist powers prevented it from developing its own industries, the chief of which were textiles, tobacco, food and papermaking. Heavy industry, as it is understood today, was nonexistent.

Albania was at a still lower level of development. Before the establishment of people’s democratic rule it was a semi-colonial country with considerable survivals of feudalism and serfdom. The landlords and kulaks, who made up only 3 per cent of the population, owned nearly 40 per cent of the land. The wooden plough, the harrow and the mattock were the principal agricultural implements. The peasants lived in semi-starvation. The best land belonged to Italian colonialists. Industry was at a very low level, being represented principally by handicraft establishments. There were also the beginnings of a mining industry and an oil industry, but they were completely in the hands of foreign monopolies which exploited the Albanian people and filched the country’s natural resources.

Under the boyards Rumania too was an agrarian country, farming being the occupation of 80 per cent of its population. National living standards were very low. The foreign monopolies which controlled Rumania’s economy retarded its industrial development. Light industries predominated. Rumania had a more or less developed oil industry, but, being controlled by foreign monopolies, it did not contribute to the country’s economic progress and only served as a means of robbing it of its most valuable natural possession.

In prewar Poland, too, industry was poorly developed and technically backward. Such vitally important industries as electrical and complex engineering, building, and automobiles were lacking. Its metallurgical plants were out of date and played no significant part in the national economy. Chronic unemployment in industry and a pauperized farming population were characteristic features of the old Poland.

Capitalist Hungary was in a somewhat different position. It was relatively more highly developed industrially than Rumania or Bulgaria. It was an agrarian-industrial country, industry contributing about as much to the national income as agriculture. But although Hungary had a heavy industry, the light industries were still the predominating feature of its economic structure. There was a very distinct lack of balance between its various industries. For instance, Hungary had a fairly developed locomotive-building industry, but it had practically no machine-tool industry, and this hampered the production of equipment.

Under capitalism, therefore, these countries lagged very considerably behind the industrially advanced countries, and their immediate task now is to overtake the latter in a historically short space of time.

Czechoslovakia’s problem is a different one. It is the most industrially advanced of the People’s Democracies. But while it has a highly developed industry and skilled personnel, the industrial structure it inherited from the past was very one-sided. Light industries predominated, while the heavy industries were inadequately developed. It had to import large quantities of important items of machinery and raw materials, and in this respect was dependent on the big capitalist powers. Its dependence was further increased by the fact that its light industries produced mainly for the foreign market.

Czechoslovakia’s five-year plan, therefore, is aimed to put an end to this unbalanced state of the country’s industry by concentrating chiefly on the building of new and the reconstruction and expansion of old heavy-engineering and ferrous-metal plants, so that these industries may eventually predominate.

It will thus be seen that the problem of “overtaking and outstripping” the technically and economically advanced capitalist countries is common to all the People’s Democracies, although its requirements are different in the case of each. Socialist industrialization is essential for all of them as the only effective means of overcoming their technical backwardness. But Bulgaria, Rumania and Albania, which had little or no heavy industry before, have to lay the foundations of their industrial development. Poland and Hungary, on the other hand, and especially Czechoslovakia and the German Democratic Republic, see their principal task in the expansion, with the help of new and up-to-date equipment, of such industries as machine-building and ferrous metallurgy, which they possess but which are inadequately developed, and of the industries which are specific to each of these countries.

All the People’s Democracies have already made vast progress along these lines.

Poland. The engineering and metallurgical industries are developing rapidly. Such important branches of the engineering industry as the manufacture of machine tools, motor vehicles and tractors, as well as shipbuilding, have been newly created. Poland is also producing equipment for the metallurgical, coal, chemical, paper and other industries. Another new industry is the production of synthetic materials, including rayon.

In 1951, Poland’s total industrial output was already 2.9 times as great as before the war. It rose another 20 per cent in 1952, output of means of production increasing 23.2 per cent (machine-building – 32.2 per cent, metallurgy – 18.7 per cent, chemicals – 23.1 per cent, power – 20.5 per cent).

The aim being to convert Poland into an advanced industrial country, its six-year plan envisages the construction of a large number of industrial plants. One of them is the big Nowa Huta Works, which will produce 1.1 million tons of iron and 1.5 million tons of steel per annum. A large plant producing quality steel will help raise the Polish ferrous-metals industry to a higher category. More than 40 new up-to-date engineering plants, automobile and tractor plants and mines will go into operation. In addition, important key industries and individual plants will be radically reconstructed and expanded. The ferrous-metals industry, in particular, will be thoroughly reconstructed.

What Poland’s six-year plan for the building of the industrial base of socialism means may be seen from the following figures. The total output of the socialist industries will increase in this period by 158 per cent. The output increases of some of the industries will be as follows: general machinery – more than 3.5 times; machine tools – 3 times; chemical industry equipment – 5 times; tractors – 4.5 times; electric power – 2.3 times; textile machinery – 6 times; agricultural machinery – 4 times; steel – 2 times (actual steel output is well ahead of program). In 1955 Poland will be mining 100 million tons of coal. These impressive figures indicate how radically the country is being transformed now that it has adopted the socialist path of development.

Czechoslovakia. In building the industrial base for socialism, attention is being chiefly focussed on the development of the engineering (notably heavy engineering), metallurgical and ore-mining industries. The metallurgical industry will be greatly expanded, as will also the mining of the principal metallurgical raw material – iron ore. In order that the development of the engineering and metal-working industries may not be retarded owing to lack of steel, the government is adopting a series of measures to speed up ore mining and steel production.

Heavy engineering is also developing rapidly. Its output in 1953 will be 248 per cent greater than in 1948. There will be a very big increase in output of steam turbines, hydro-turbines and gantry cranes. In the very near future Czechoslovakia will be able not only to satisfy its own requirements in heavy engineering products, but also to supply them to other countries of the socialist camp.

Czechoslovakia is successfully coping with its five-year plan. In 1951, industrial output was already 70 per cent, and in 1952, nearly 100 per cent above pre-war. In the latter year, 216 per cent more power, 24 per cent more coal, and 730 per cent more natural gas was produced than in 1937. Czechoslovakia is now producing mobile power plants, oil industry equipment, powerful cranes, Diesel motors and super-powerful presses, vertical lathes, power station equipment, high-capacity steam boilers and other heavy engineering items.

Special stress is being laid on the industrialization of Slovakia, formerly an economically backward national region. In the five years Slovakia is to increase its output of heavy engineering products eleven-fold compared with 1948. A big plant now in course of construction will produce over one million tons of steel per annum to supply the needs of Slovakia’s machine-building industry. Industrially, Slovakia will rank with the most highly developed Czech regions.

Hungary. Indicative of Hungary’s rapid economic progress is the fact that industrial output was 2.5 times as great in 1951, and over 3 times as great in 1952, as before the war. The biggest advances have been registered by the engineering and metallurgical industries. In 1952, output in the heavy industries was 315 per cent, and in the light industries 113.2 per cent, above pre-war. The biggest increases in 1952 were shown by the major heavy industries: ore mining – 141.2 per cent; metallurgy – 180.2 per cent; machine-building – 485.3 per cent; chemicals – 309.2 per cent. Significant are the nearly twelvefold increase of output of precision instruments and the threefold increase of output of building materials. The Stalin Iron and Steel Works, now in construction, will have an annual output exceeding the aggregate capacity of all Hungary’s pre-war iron and steel plants.

The five-year plan envisages the output of many types of machinery and equipment which were not produced in Hungary before, such as big machines for heavy industry, trolley buses, harvester combines, Diesel tractors, road-making machinery, excavators, machines for the building and chemical industries, automatic looms and automatic lathes, large railway cranes, mine hoists and loading machines. These items are being supplied to the mills, factories and farms of the country in ever larger quantities. Factories, mines and power stations are being built all over Hungary.

Rumania. Oil refineries, thermal and catalytic cracking plants, gas pipe lines, numerous hydroelectric and thermoelectric power stations, coke plants and a big iron and steel works are among the many industrial undertakings now being built. In addition, re-equipment of existing plants is proceeding on a large scale. The pride of the five-year plan, the Danube-Black Sea Canal, will be of great economic value not only to Rumania, but to other People’s Democracies as well. Rumania is now manufacturing coal-loading machines, new types of scraper conveyors, caterpillar tractors, graders, hoisting equipment for the building industry and many other types of equipment which it did not produce before.

The five-year plan lays special stress on the development of the oil, coal, metallurgical, power, engineering and chemical industries, which are of major importance to Rumania’s national economy. The basis has been laid for the development of an aluminium industry. Total industrial output in 1955 will be 144 per cent greater than in 1950, particular increases being: oil – 126 per cent; coal – 138 per cent; ferrous metals – 143 per cent; electrical equipment – 285 per cent; chemicals – 164 per cent; nonferrous metals – 143 per cent.

Rumania is successfully carrying out its five- year plan. In 1951 total industrial output was 90 per cent above pre-war. In 1952, output ratios of individual items to pre-war were: steel – 2.5; pig iron – 3; threshing machines – 64; electric motors – 44; cement – 3. Industry in that year accounted for 64 per cent of the total national output. This figure is indicative of the rapid progress Rumania is making in laying the foundation of socialism.

Bulgaria. Development of the engineering industry is Bulgaria’s most significant achievement. With the exception of tractors and harvester combines, it now produces every type of agricultural machine. It also produces equipment for industry and transport – Diesel motors, railway signalling apparatus, machinery for mechanical bakeries, bulldozers, steam boilers, building machinery, electric motors, transformers, dynamos: and electrical measuring instruments. Bulgaria has furthermore created a shipbuilding industry: the first ship, the “Blagoy Kasabov,” an ocean-going vessel, was launched in 1951, and another ocean-going vessel, the “Dimitr Kondov,” in the early part of 1952.

With the help of the Soviet Union, Bulgaria is building its first iron and steel plant. Before the war Bulgaria’s rulers used to assert that the country did not possess the requirements for the development of an iron and steel industry. This assertion has now been given the lie: the time is coming when Bulgaria will be producing the iron and steel needed for the development of its own engineering industry.

The big Stalin Chemical Works is also being built with the assistance of the Soviet Union. It will produce 70,000 tons of artificial fertilizer annually.

The major targets of the five-year plan were achieved ahead of schedule – the industrial output target in 3 years and 10 months. Total industrial output in 1952 was 2.3 times as great as in 1948, and more than 4 times as great as in 1939. The five-year plan output target for 1953 was already topped by 20.1 per cent in 1952. Most striking is the progress of heavy industry. According to the five-year plan, the ratio of output of means of production to total industrial output was to be 45:100 in 1953; actually, it was 46.7:100 already in 1952. Power output in 1952 was 2.5 times as great as in 1948, and 5.1 times as great as in 1939. Iron and steel output was 6.9 times as great as in 1948. The five-year plan machine-building target for 1953 was topped by 38.1 per cent already in 1952.

The rapid development of industry has altered the relative proportions of industrial and agricultural output. The volume of industrial output in 1952 was greater than the volume of agricultural output, although the latter had increased. Production of consumer goods has increased substantially.

Albania. The economic aim of the five-year plan is to convert Albania from a backward, agrarian country into an agrarian-industrial country. Industrial output in 1955 is to be 12 times as great as before the war; it was already more than 5 times as great in 1951. The mining industry is to increase its output in the five years by 206 per cent (coal – 488 per cent, bitumen – 203 per cent, chromium ore – 130 per cent, oil – 170 per cent, copper ore – tenfold). Big industrial plants are being built. The Soviet Union assisted the building of the Stalin Textile Mill which, with an annual capacity of 20 million metres, can fully satisfy Albania’s requirements in cotton cloth; also the Lenin Hydroelectric Station, which has increased Tirana’s electricity supply tenfold, and its water supply fourfold, and a big sugar refinery of 10,000 tons annual capacity. Oil refineries and ore mines are among the other industrial enterprises now being built.

The German Democratic Republic. Here too the foundations of socialism are being laid. According to the five-year plan, industrial output in 1955 is to be 92.3 per cent above 1950, and more than twice as great as before the war.

Big advances were made in 1952, notably in heavy industry. Total industrial output increased 16 per cent (machine-building – 22.3 per cent; metallurgy – 26.4 per cent; electrical equipment – 22.8 per cent). The publicly-owned plants and plants in the same category accounted for 78.6 per cent of the total industrial output. Last year 93 per cent more pig iron, 22 per cent more steel, 327.6 per cent more rolling equipment, and 23.2 per cent more mining and ore-concentration equipment was produced than in the preceding year.

These figures clearly indicate that the building of the industrial base for socialism is proceeding successfully in the European People’s Democracies. And it must be stressed that their industrial development is of a peaceful character and designed to satisfy the rising material and cultural requirements of their people and to safeguard their national sovereignty and independence.

The big advances the People’s Democracies are making in laying the industrial foundation for socialism are accompanied by a steady rise in national living standards. This has found expression in the abolition of unemployment and in the increase of wages in the towns and of the incomes of the working peasantry in the countryside.

The latter are feeling the benefits of industrialization very substantially, since they are receiving tractors, modern farm machinery, fertilizers and other needed items in ever larger quantities.

It must not be thought, however, that the transition of the People’s Democracies from capitalism to socialism is not attended by serious difficulties. It is easier for them, of course, to lay the foundation of socialism than it was for the Soviet Union. But socialist construction in the People’s Democracies too is proceeding in the midst of acute class struggle, the sabotage of enemies, international tension and threats of war on the part of the imperialists.

Socialist construction is hampered by the many different forms of economic ownership, by the existence of a kulak class, by a deficiency of skilled industrial personnel, by the relics of the capitalist mentality, by an insufficiency of raw materials, and by insufficiently high productivity of labour. There are many other obstacles and difficulties too.

But the main thing is that the People’s Democracies are developing in the right direction – towards socialism. They found sufficient strength for this because they have consolidated the alliance between the working class and the peasantry, and because they can rely on the fraternal aid of the Soviet Union and the economic cooperation and mutual assistance of all the countries of the socialist camp.

The guiding and directing force in the People’s Democracies is the Communist and Workers’ Parties, which have already led the working class and the peoples of these countries to supreme victories and, under the banner of Lenin and Stalin, are confidently leading them to the complete triumph of socialism.

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