The Soviet Economy at a Time of Impending War and Mass Terror


  • Grigory Khanin



USSR economy, militarisation of economy, mass repressions, statistics falsification, prewar period


This review analyses the seventh volume of Davies’ book on the development of the Soviet economy in the 1930s, namely 1937–1939. The most important feature of the period was the militarisation of the Soviet economy. The share of military spending in gross domestic product grew significantly. The militarisation of the Soviet economy was explained by the real danger of a military clash with fascist Germany and Japan, whose extensive military expenditure was twice as high as the spending of the USSR. Another feature of this period was massive repression, which had important economic consequences. They are analysed from the point of view of the quality of management personnel and the GULAG economy’s effectiveness. The book analyses the censuses of 1937 and 1939; close attention is paid to the influence of statistical falsifications on economic management. The calculation of the volume of grain production, the dynamics of national income, and industrial production are classified as statistical falsification. According to the authors, it is a serious mistake to ignore falsifications in assessing the volume and dynamics of capital funds. Attention is drawn to the influence of statistical falsifications on errors in planning and managing the economy. When analysing the population’s living standards, the authors emphasise the lack of an assessment of urban living conditions and public services provision. The lack of analysis of consumption unevenness in geographical and social terms is a mistake when assessing the consumption of goods and their shortage.

Author Biography

Grigory Khanin

Dr. Hab. (Economics), Leading Researcher, Siberian Institute of Management “The Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration”.

6, Nizhegorodskaya Str., 630102, Novosibirsk, Russia.


Davies, R. W. (1996). The Industrialization of Soviet Russia. [7 vols]. Vol. 4. Crisis and Progress in the Soviet Economy, 1931–1933. L., Macmillan Press. 612 p.

Davies, R. W., Harrison, M., Khlevniuk, O., Wheatcroft, S. G. (2018). The Industrialization of Soviet Russia. [7 vols]. Vol. 7. The Soviet Economy and the Approach of War, 1937–1939. L., Macmillan Press. 439 p.

Davies, R. W., Khlevniuk, O., Wheatcroft, S. G. (2014). The Industrialization of Soviet Russia. [7 vols]. Vol. 6. The Years of Progress: The Soviet Economy, 1934–1936. L., Macmillan Press. 496 p.

Direktivy KPSS i sovetskogo pravitel’stva po khozyaistvennym voprosam v 4 t. [Directives of the CPSU and the Soviet Government on Economic Issues. 4 Vols.]. (1957). Moscow, Gospolitizdat. Vol. 2. 888 p.

Harrison, M. (Ed.). (1999). The Economics of World War 2. Six Great Powers in International Comparison. Cambridge, Cambridge Univ. Press. 307 p.

Industrializatsiya SSSR. 1938–1941. Dokumenty i materialy [Industrialization of the USSR. 1938–1941. Documents and Materials]. (1973). Moscow, Nauka. 423 p.

Khanin, G. I. (1991). Dinamika ekonomicheskogo razvitiya SSSR [Dynamics of the Economic Development of the USSR]. Novosibirsk, Nauka. 269 p.

Khanin, G. I. (2008). Ekonomicheskaya istoriya SSSR v noveishee vremya v 2 t. [Economic History of the USSR in Recent Times. 2 Vols.]. Novosibirsk, Novosibirskii tekhnicheskii universitet. Vol. 1. Ekonomika SSSR v kontse 1930-kh godov – 1987 god. 516 p.

Khanin, G. I. (2015). Proizvedeniya R. Devisa po istorii sovetskoi ekonomiki i obshchestva [R. Davies’ Works on the History of the Soviet Economy and Society]. In Klio. No. 8 (104), pp. 41–48.

Krotov, N. (2010). Zhizn’ i udivitel’nye priklyucheniya bankira Viktora Gerashchenko, rasskazannye im samim [The Life and Extraordinary Adventures of the Banker Victor Gerashchenko, Told by Himself]. Moscow, ANO “Ekonomicheskaya letopis’”. 583 p.

Osokina, E. (1999). Za fasadom “stalinskogo izobiliya” [Behind the Façade of “Stalin’s Abundance”]. Moscow, ROSSPEN. 268 p.

Voznesenskii, N. A. (1979). Izbrannye proizvedeniya [Selected Works]. Moscow, Politizdat. 606 p.



How to Cite

Khanin, G. (2022). The Soviet Economy at a Time of Impending War and Mass Terror. Quaestio Rossica, 10(2), 766–780.



Controversiae et recensiones