The Great Leap Forward • 1959 Steel production • famine “More, Faster, Better” Elena Songster & Jessica Stowell, OU
THE GREAT LEAP FORWARD - THE BACKYARD STEEL CAMPAIGN • Small Commune Factories Set Up • Emphasis on Steel Production • Backyard Steel Furnaces Set Up • 1958 a Good Year For Overall Production
The Great Leap Forward • Steel production was similarly controlled, and although Mao had no knowledge of metallurgy, he encouraged every village to build small furnaces to produce steel. • Trees were eliminated near the communes to fuel the furnaces, and even peasant’s doors and furniturewas burned. • The very pots and pans that the people cooked theirfoodwith were requisitioned as “scrap metal” so that the commune could meet its quota.
Steel Production • The whole country was mobilised, so that by the end of the year 600,000 "backyard furnaces" had sprung up making steel, often melting down useful items like cooking pots and tractors just to increase steel "production".
“Back-yard" production plants The most famous were 600,000 backyard furnaces which produced steel for the communes.
"back-yard" production plants. • they added a considerable amount of steel
Backyard Steel Furnaces • The most mocked aspect of the Great Leap Forward was the backyard steel furnaces. • Mao thought that peasants could learn to make steel on a broadly decentralized basis. • Most areas of China, however, lacked the ore and fuel for this.
Effects of Steel Plan • A great deal of steel was created, but it was of such poor quality that it was useless. • Mao learned in 1959 that only traditional large scale steel mills were capable of producing good quality metal, but Mao waited to cancel the steel program quietly later to save face. • While focusing on steel, a great deal of Grain was left to rot in the fields.
farm machinery fell to pieces when used. • thousands of workers were injured after working long hours • Steel produced by the backyard furnaces was too weak
The backyard furnaces also used too much coal and China’s rail system, which depended on coal driven trains, suffered accordingly.
THE CRISIS YEARS, 1959-1961 Ours is the only chemical factory of its kind and the boiler is 70 years old. But one day a Party official arrived and told me to increase the pressure in the boiler from a hundred to a hundred and fifty pounds per square inch so that the reactor process could be completed 9 times a day instead of 6. When I told him he was turning it into a bomb, he accused me of being a bourgeois reactionary. So what was I to do? Great Leap? The connecting pipe burst when the pressure reached 120 pounds, and we were out of production for a week while repairs were made.
Why Did The Steel Production Plan Fail? • What went wrong ? • Quickly produced farm machinery produced in factories fell to pieces when used. • Many thousands of workers were injured after working long hours and falling asleep at their jobs. • Steel produced by the backyard furnaces was often too weak to be of any use and could not be used in construction. • Buildings constructed by this substandard steel did not last long. • Backyard production method had taken many workers away from their fields – so desperately needed food was not being harvested
THE CRISIS YEARS, 1959-1961 • Things Begin Going Wrong in 1959 • Unrealistic Demands for More Production From the Party • Backyard Steel Campaign Fails • Too Little Agricultural Production