Robert William Davies

Robert William Davies
University of Birmingham · Centre for Russian and East European Studies

BA,(London), PhD(Birmingham)

About

203
Publications
8,361
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1,142
Citations
Additional affiliations
January 1963 - present
University of Birmingham
Position
  • Ekeritus Professor
Description
  • History of Soviet Industrialisatiom

Publications

Publications (203)
Article
This Reply, while confirming that Stalin's policies were ruthless and brutal, shows that there are no serious grounds for Ellman's view that Stalin pursued a conscious policy of starvation of the peasants during the famine. It also rejects Ellman's claim that in their recent book [Davies and Wheatcroft (the authors neglect Soviet policy and leaders...
Article
The monument to Soviet central planning was supposed to have been a heap of surplus left boots without any right ones to match them. The great bull market of the past quarter century is commemorated by millions of empty houses without anyone to buy them. Gosplan drafted workers into grim factories even if their talents would have been better suited...
Article
Considers the later stages of the New Economic Policy (NEP) (1926-9) and the period of collectivization of agriculture and rapid industrialization (1929-41). Rejects both the traditional view of Gerschenkron and others that the NEP mixed economy could not support a process of industrialization and the recent view of Millar and others that the rate...
Book
This book examines the Soviet agricultural crisis of 1931-1933 which culminated in the major famine of 1933. It is the first volume in English to make extensive use of Russian and Ukrainian central and local archives to assess the extent and causes of the famine. It reaches new conclusions on how far the famine was 'organized' or 'artificial', and...
Article
Based on extensive research in formerly secret archives, this volume examines the progress of Soviet industrialisation against the background of the rising threat of aggression from Germany, Japan and Italy, and the consolidation of Stalin's power.
Book
Based on extensive research in formerly secret archives, this volume examines the progress of Soviet industrialisation against the background of the rising threat of aggression from Germany, Japan and Italy, and the consolidation of Stalin’s power.
Chapter
The terror of 1936–38 was substantially different from previous repressive measures, and requires a special explanation. In this chapter only one aspect of this topic is discussed: the economic situation in 1936, and its role — if any — in the launching of the repressions. The shift from the nomenklatura purge to the mass purges in the summer of 19...
Article
Over 50 years ago, Abram Bergson, Janet Chapman and others sought to assess the large gap in Soviet statistics between the published wage bill and the full wage bill, and Frank Lorimer drew attention to the related gap between the employment data in the 1939 population census and in the annual employment returns. Soviet archives, which have recentl...
Article
Full-text available
Over fifty years ago, Abram Bergson, Janet Chapman, and others sought to assess the large gap in Soviet statistics between the published wage bill and the full wage bill; and Frank Lorimer drew attention to the related gap between the employment data in the 1939 population census and in the annual employment returns. Soviet archives which have rece...
Chapter
The modus operandi of the Politburo used to be shrouded in controversy and speculation, but it has been understood much more clearly since the opening of the archives in the early 1990s. Of course, long before this, most historians were agreed about major features of the central power structure — in particular that in the late 1920s and 1930s its c...
Article
"From 1931 to 1936, Stalin vacationed at his Black Sea residence for two to three months each year. While away from Moscow, he relied on correspondence with his subordinates to receive information, watch over the work of the Politburo and the government, give orders, and express his opinions. This book publishes for the first time translations of 1...
Article
Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History 4.1 (2003) 272 In his letter to the editors in Kritika 3: 3 (2002), 569-71, Martin Malia remarks approvingly that "Robert Davies ... now acknowledges his 'naiveté' in assessing Stalin's industrialization," and urges "revisionist" historians to follow my example. I presume this is referring to th...
Article
Article reviewed:Haslam, Jonathan, The Vices of Integrity: E. H. Carr, 1892-1982
Article
Full-text available
This article uses recently declassified archives to consider two further topics. First, the relation between the economic problems of the early years of the second five-year plan and the emergence of the Stakhanov movement in the autumn of 1935. Second, the extent to which Stakhanovism succeeded in overcoming these problems. Following the crisis of...
Chapter
Many historians have concluded that the central reason for the Soviet famine of 1932–33 was not the amount of grain available in these years but the distribution of grain. On this basis it is argued that this was an ‘organised famine’ in which Stalin deliberately withheld available grain from the population of Ukraine and elsewhere. An extreme posi...
Chapter
‘We are going full steam ahead by means of industrialisation to socialism’, Stalin announced in November 1929.1 The Politburo under Stalin’s leadership sought to subordinate every aspect of society, and every citizen, to the tasks of the socialist offensive. In December 1929, Stalin, in an unconventional reply to birthday greetings, drew attention...
Chapter
In his famous article ‘The Year of the Great Break-Through’, published on the twelfth anniversary of the Bolshevik revolution (November 7, 1929), Stalin succinctly summarised the prevailing mood in leading party circles.1 According to Stalin, a ‘decisive offensive by socialism’ had occurred in the course of the economic year 1928/29, and had result...
Chapter
The outstanding feature of the second ‘spinal’ year of the five-year plan was the vast expansion of capital investment and its concentration on the producer goods industries. Total gross investment for the whole economy, including capital repair, increased by over 30 per cent.1 The increase in net investment was even more rapid: according to Soviet...
Chapter
In the economic years 1927/28 and 1928/29 capital investment in Vesenkha-planned industry increased by nearly 50 per cent, far exceeding even the most optimistic proposals in the draft five-year plans current in the spring and autumn of 1927. The 1927/28 investment target which had been agreed after such travail (see p. 53 above) was soon supersede...
Chapter
The draft resolution for the party congress, ‘On the Fulfilment of the Five-Year Plan of Industry’, published in Pravda on May 21, 1930, celebrated the triumphant advance of industrialisation in enthusiastic terms. It declared that ‘the USSR is being transformed with unprecedented speed from a backward agrarian country into an advanced country’, an...
Chapter
The revolution and civil war eliminated, perhaps for ever, private landowners and all substantial private capitalism. The new social and political structure which emerged during the 1920s was profoundly influenced by this transformation. The revolution flattened the top and extended the sides of the steep pre-revolutionary social pyramid. In the co...
Chapter
In the closing months of 1929, the capitalist world plunged into a protracted economic and social crisis. A year earlier, in August 1928, the VI Congress of Comintern announced that the general crisis of the capitalist system was entering its ‘third period’ of ‘tremendous catastrophes’, in which the partial stabilisation of the mid-1920s would give...
Chapter
In the economic debates of the mid-1920s, Bukharin argued that during the transition from NEP to socialism the ‘planning principle’ would struggle and cooperate with the ‘principle of spontaneity’ on and through the market, so that the market would be the sole regulator of the economy. But the doctrine was challenged in practice in 1928–9 by the us...
Chapter
At the time of the XVI party congress, which celebrated industrial progress in a mood of complacent enthusiasm, industry was already entering a serious crisis. The preliminary Vesenkha report for June 1930, published shortly after the end of the congress, revealed a significant decline in industrial production and labour productivity.1
Chapter
The economic difficulties of the summer of 1930 led to a re-emergence of policy conflicts in the party. Our limited knowledge of the disputes reflects the increasing secrecy in Soviet political life. In 1924–7, documents from the various Left oppositions were partly published in the official press, and widely circulated in leading party circles. Th...
Chapter
Two weeks before it was finally approved by the V congress of soviets, the optimum variant of the five-year plan was already being nudged aside by the imperative claims of industry. On May 7, 1929, the presidium of Vesenkha, in its preliminary discussion of the control figures for the economic year October, 1, 1929, to September 30, 1930, approved...
Chapter
The claims of defence reinforced the claims of industrialisation. Tsarist Russia had developed a strong artillery, naval shipbuilding and military chemical industry, and good aircraft design and production facilities. The rapid expansion of armaments production in 1909–14 was made possible by the advance of heavy industry in the 1890s, and in turn...
Article
Full-text available
In our paper we aim to show the changing economic significance of defence outlays in the period of the second five-year plan (1933-7).1 This period emerges as a time of transition. Rapid rearmament had been begun during the first five-year plan (1928-32), but from a very low base. In terms of the rising volume of activity, the following period was...
Chapter
Gosplan, unlike all the other major government departments, did not manage or control any specific sector or function of the economy. It was established in February 1921 not as a People’s Commissariat but as the ‘State General Planning Commission’.1 It was responsible to the Council of Labour and Defence (STO), the permanent committee for economic...
Chapter
In the years of Brezhnev and Andropov most Soviet historians were tamed and silenced by the orthodoxy imposed by the party. With few exceptions, they remained quite passive in 1987, when writers and journalists were already calling for a profound reassessment of the Soviet past. But in 1988 they became leading actors in the drama of rival ideas. In...
Chapter
In his report of November 1987 Gorbachev criticised the ‘administrative-command system’ and bitterly condemned the Stalinist repressions. But in other respects he was more orthodox. He was contemptuously hostile to Trotsky, critical (albeit sympathetically) of Bukharin, and on the whole supported the collectivisation of agriculture. After the XIX P...
Chapter
During 1989 and 1990 the triumphal progress of Gorbachev’s drive for openness (glasnost’) continued. By 1989, major organs of the press had effectively escaped from central control. The number and range of forbidden topics rapidly declined. Then in March 1990 the USSR Congress of People’s Deputies removed the clause of the Soviet constitution which...
Chapter
Many hundreds of Russian books and articles in recent years have discussed the general nature of Stalinist society. But social analysis based on new information is in its infancy.
Chapter
History teaching collapsed in May 1988: school examinations were cancelled. Pupils entered the 1988/89 session with the old textbooks and with no approved syllabus.1
Chapter
During the war Stalin unremittingly wielded the tyrannical powers which he had acquired in the previous decade. But he partly relinquished them: in the first eighteen months of war he learned that the Soviet Army would win more battles if Zhukov took the military decisions.
Chapter
Opposition to Stalin and his policies in party circles was at its maximum in 1932–4 — the years of famine and its aftermath. The anti-Stalinist Ryutin platform, produced by a small group of dissident Communists in the autumn of 1932, was widely known among the Moscow and Leningrad élite.’ New evidence has confirmed the rumours that a substantial nu...
Chapter
The key events of these years are more or less common ground among historians. In 1921 Lenin persuaded the party to adopt NEP (the New Economic Policy). Compulsory food requisitioning was replaced by a market relation between the state and the peasants. Small-scale industry was denationalised, state industry was required to be profitable, and priva...
Chapter
Russian historians are deeply divided in their assessment of the Bolshevik Revolution and the Civil War.
Chapter
The forced labour system developed on a mass scale in the early 1930s, and expanded remorselessly until Stalin’s death in 1953. At first the Soviet press gave it a certain amount of publicity — albeit very selective. In 1931–3 the construction of the White Sea canal by prison labour was extolled as a practical demonstration of the way in which a so...
Chapter
In the first fortnight of August 1991, two documents released to the press reflected Gorbachev’s revived determination to press ahead with perestroika. The first was the draft party programme already discussed at the central committee plenum in July. The programme, ‘Socialism, Democracy and Progress’, called for ‘a mixed economy’ including ‘state,...
Article
In seeking to explain the successful development of Soviet physics, the historian of science A. V. Andreev rejects the ‘widespread notion that a definite period of Soviet history (roughly from 1917 to the end of the 1950s) is primarily characterised by the total politicisation of all sides of social life, including the natural sciences’.
Article
In January 1992 the liberal economist Gaidar launched his major attempt to dismantle the old economic system and replace it by a free-market economy. It resulted in a huge increase in prices, a continuing inflation, and the impoverishment of many Russian citizens. The velvet revolutionaries of 1991, like the Bolshevik revolutionaries of 1917, prove...
Article
Full-text available
Most western and all Soviet studies of the Stalinist economy have ignored the role played by the stockpiling of grain in the agricultural crisis of the early 1930s. Thus in his major work on Stalinist agriculture published in 1949, Naum Jasny frankly admitted that data were insufficient to reach a conclusion, merely noting that “stocks from former...
Chapter
The first major occasion on which the new leaders of Vesenkha presented themselves in public was the ‘First Ail-Union Conference of Employees (rabotniki) of Socialist Industry’, held in Moscow from January 30 to February 4, 1931. [1] The conference, convened in the hall of the House of Trade Unions in which the Industrial Party trial had taken plac...
Chapter
In August 1931 a despatch by the British charge d’affaires in Moscow drew attention to the ‘less feverish’ atmosphere in the Soviet Union: ‘detente in internal affairs’ was accompanied by ‘a similar detente in foreign relations’. [1] He added that in internal affairs, moves to reconcile the ‘bourgeois specialists’ had been accompanied by a general...
Chapter
In the first few months of 1933, the Soviet economy plunged into its deepest crisis since the civil war. Widespread famine in the countryside grew in intensity. Industry entered a new phase of crisis. In the previous two years production had declined in January and February, following the spurt at the end of the previous year. But in 1933 the decli...
Chapter
By the time of the industrial conference, industry was already in severe crisis. The official statistics acknowledged that Vesenkha production fell by 12.8 per cent in January and a further 6.2 per cent in February. This was partly the normal decline to be expected in mid-winter, and partly a reaction to the great push of the October-December quart...
Chapter
The new trends in policy were reflected unevenly in the pronouncements of party leaders in May and June 1931. Kuibyshev’s report to Gosplan on May 11 remained entirely committed to impossibly ambitious long-term plans (see pp. 43–4 above), and paid no attention to the role of financial indicators in planning. [1]
Chapter
In 1933 the economic situation was the worst since 1921/22, the first year of NEP. The shadow of the famine, in which millions of peasants starved to death, haunted all economic activity. Yet the improved performance in the last few months of the year proved to be the starting-point for the industrial boom of 1934–6, the greatest pre-war triumph of...
Chapter
Western assessments of the Soviet economic prospects for 1932 differed widely. In a widely circulated speech, the British industrialist Leslie Urquhart proclaimed that ‘the failure of the five-year plan in its fourth year 1931 enables one to predict an imminent catastrophe for 1932 … This crisis will inevitably mean the end of the communist system...
Chapter
The industrialisation drive began a profound transformation of Soviet society. In the words of Moshe Lewin, this was a ‘society in flux’. Peasants moved into the towns in large numbers; a smaller number of townsfolk moved to the countryside to assist in managing the new kolkhozy and sovkhozy; at every level of urban society, people changed their jo...
Chapter
Reviewing economic developments in 1931, a leading official of the central statistical agency frankly stated that ‘the entire increase in the national income in 1931 went into accumulationconsumption declined in absolute as well as relative terms.1 Investment in the socialised sector of the economy, measured in current prices, increased by over 50...
Chapter
On January 30, 1933, Hitler was appointed Chancellor of the German Reich. Within a few months all political parties were banned, and the trade unions were taken over by the Nazi Labour Front. These events, though accompanied by a fierce anti-Communist campaign, were at first greeted by the Soviet authorities with outward calm and a certain inner co...
Chapter
By the beginning of 1933 the annual control figures had not yet been published; and no directives had yet been agreed for the second five-year plan, due to commence on January 1. Many foreign observers were convinced that disaster was overhanging the Soviet economy. The Commercial Counsellor at the British Embassy in Moscow believed that ‘the Sovie...
Chapter
A month after the 1932 plan and budget had been approved, the xvii party conference met from January 30 to February 4, 1932, and heard reports from Ordzhonikidze about ‘the results of industry in 1931 and the tasks for 1932’ and from Molotov and Kuibyshev on the ‘directives for the compilation of the second five-year plan’. The xvii conference met...
Chapter
As a result of the combined agricultural, financial and foreign trade crisis, both industrial production and capital construction grew much more slowly in 1932 than in the previous year. Agricultural production and retail trade substantially declined. According to a careful Western estimate, Gross National Product fell slightly for the first time s...
Book
List of Tables - Preface - The 1931 Plan - The Industrial Conference, January 30-February 4, 1931 - The Struggle for the Plan, January-June 1931 - Stalin's Conditions for Industrial Development - Reforms and Plans, July-December 1931 - 1931 in Retrospect - The 1932 Plan - The XVII Party Conference, January 30-February 4, 1932 - Reforms amid Difficu...
Chapter
The reconsideration of the Soviet past was central to the mental revolution launched by Gorbachev. In the course of 1987 and 1988 the Soviet press and other media described with increasing frankness grim aspects of the past on which they had been utterly silent for twenty years or more. The intense interest of the Soviet public in the truth about t...
Chapter
The claims of defence reinforced the claims of industrialisation. Tsarist Russia had developed a strong artillery, naval shipbuilding and military chemical industry, and good aircraft design and production facilities. The rapid expansion of armaments production in 1909–14 was made possible by the advance of heavy industry in the 1890s, and in turn...
Chapter
During the tumultuous months of 1989 the Western view that world communism was in a profound crisis seemed to have been dramatically confirmed. Hungary and Poland moved sharply towards a multi-party system in which the Communist Party is likely to be in a minority; and their economies rapidly acquired a substantial capitalist sector. In China the d...
Article
Abel Aganbegyan, The Challenge: Economics of Perestroika. London: Hutchinson “Second World” Series, 1988. xxvii + 248 pp. Padma Desai, Perestroika in Perspective: the Design and Dilemmas of Soviet Reform. Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 1989. ix + 138 pp. Anders Aslund, Gorbachev's Struggle for Economic Reform: The Soviet Reform Process, 1985–88. Lond...
Chapter
In his recent study of Russian national income by end-use, Paul Gregory concludes that NNP (net national product) increased by around 31 per cent between 1908 and 1913 (5.6 per cent a year), or by 17 per cent per capita (3.2 per cent a year). The available production series indicate that large- scale industrial production and net grain production g...
Chapter
Historians are sharply divided in their assessments of the tsarist system on the eve of the first world war and the Soviet system of the 1920s; the extent of continuity and change between the two economies and the two systems has long been a central issue in historical debate.
Book
Full-text available
This book contains a full translation of a major but little-known Soviet work on Soviet national income accounts for a crucial stage in the social and economic transformation of the Soviet economy from 1928 to 1930. These were years of mass collectivisation and the launching of the Soviet industrialisation drive. The USSR was perhaps unique in havi...
Chapter
In the first eighteen months after Gorbachev’s appointment the Politburo took a cautious or even conservative attitude to Soviet history. In May 1985, in his speech on the occasion of the fortieth anniversary of victory in the second world war, Gorbachev proclaimed that ‘the gigantic work at the front and in the rear was led by the party, its Centr...
Chapter
In the recent Soviet accounts of the impact of Stalinism on Soviet society, the repressive character of the regime is at the centre of attention. We have already considered Soviet publications on the campaign to eliminate the kulaks and other opponents of collectivisation, and on the subsequent famine (see Chapter 4). Even greater attention has bee...
Chapter
In 1961 Stalin’s embalmed body was moved out of the mausoleum in Red Square. ‘We must break down the false image of Stalin in the minds of the people if we are to build a better society’, a Soviet historian assured me in 1963. In the 1970s, however, almost no criticism of Stalin was permitted in the Soviet press; the problem of Stalin was dealt wit...
Chapter
The Bolshevik revolution of October–November 1917 was followed by a bitter Civil War. Between 1918 and 1920, in a desperate struggle, the Soviet government succeeded in defeating the numerous White armies and their foreign supporters.

Projects

Project (1)
Project
Development of Soviet economy in Last phas befor Development ot Soviet economy in last period before second world war