Under Stalin, who replaced the New Economic Policy (NEP) of the 1920s with five year plans (introduced in 1928) and collective farming, the Soviet Union was transformed from a peasant society to a major world industrial power by the end of the 1930s. However, Soviet agriculture, which had been exploited to finance the industrialization drive, continued to show poor returns throughout the decade. Collectivization had met widespread resistance, resulting in a bitter struggle of many peasants against the authorities. Meanwhile, Stalin argued that the ruling Communist Party's factionalism might weaken the Soviet Union in the face of foreign enemies. During the 1930s, he eliminated effective political opposition through a system of concentration camps (seeGulag) and executions, and by providing certain segments of the population benefits so as to win their support or co-opt them into the regime.
A hard-won victory in World War II (the Great Patriotic War, 1941–45), made possible in part through the capacity for production that was the outcome of industrialization, laid the groundwork for the formation of the Warsaw Pact and established the USSR as one of the two major world powers, a position it maintained for nearly four decades following Stalin's death in 1953. Nevertheless, future generations of Soviet leadership repudiated Stalinism; Stalin's successor as First Party Secretary, Nikita Khrushchev, denounced his use of mass repression and his "personality cult" in 1956..
^ page 133, Koba the Dread, ISBN 0786868767; page 354, Stalin: The Man and His Era, ISBN 0807070017, In a footnote he quotes the press announcement as speaking of her "sudden death"; he also cites pages 103–5 of his daughter's book, Twenty Letters to a Friend, the Russian edition, New York, 1967