Since 1905 until 1918 Russia had 3 revolutions in a row, was one of the major participant in WW I and then it had the most cruel civil war. In 20s USSR had 3% (three) of the working class, for comparison Germany in 1907 had 20%. The number of the Russian universities was shamely low - 63 (sixty three). Sixty three universities for 180 million country. The number of students in 1914 was 71 000.
The list of the Russian universities in 1914 and the number of students assigned:
Multi-disciplinary universities 10 (35 695 students)
Jurisprudence - 4 (1036 students)
Oriental - 3 (270 students)
Medicine - 2 (2592 students)
Pedagogics - 4 (894 students)
Military and Naval - 8 (894 students)
Theological - 6 (1185 students)
Engineering and industrial - 15 (23329 students)
Agricultural- 6 (3307 students)
Veterinary - 4 (1729 students)
Art - 1 (260 students)
Technological advancement under the Tsarist era (mainly in the second half of the 19th century) was extremly low comparing to the West, it started to gradually descent on the eve of the Crimean War and continued after, i.e the. Russian retardation regarding industrial power from the Western countries was almost 100 years. The developing of the Russian Empire was very poor, since 1897 to 1917 the number of workers increased from 2.1 million to 3.7 million. Thus, taking the proportions of growing of the Russian and German populaton it's easy to count that Russia would need to at least 500 years in order to hit the German figures if it continued to ''grow'' with the same speed. Followers of the baloney ''Russia which we have lost in 1917'' never can answer the question of how we supposed to win Nazi Germany wich such greatest ''achievements''? With wooden tanks and paper aircrafts?
So now imagine, you have a country, 97% of its population are peasants with hoes wearing bast shoes, out of them more than 80% are illiterate, they can't even read and write. You need to eliminate 100 years gap in 10 years and face the best army in the world after. Yes German army was the best army in those times, with best tanks, with best planes and the most expirienced troops. This best army had behind them almost all Europe, the Soviet population was 2 times lower than Europe and 30% of the Soviet population was occupied in first 3-4 months of the war.
And of course nobody says that Stalin's industrialization was perfect or something, it was very speeded up and hastle. However there was no other choice, Russian monarchy did nothing when the Western countries were industrializing, as a result tens of years of retardation. Well I probably go a bit far saying that they did nothing, yes, they did something of course. But comparing to what the West did through the same time frameworks, it's a drop in the ocean and in general Tsarist government since the Crimean War was essentially inept and less respnosible.
The history showed that without this hyper fast industrialization, USSR would loose to Germany, so Stalin had 2 choices, either to make in 10 years what normally countries should do in 80-150 years in other words eliminate 100 years gap in 10 years, or simply loose ending up with a dismal failure. In the best case of this failure, current Russia would be somewhere behind the Ural mountains and I'd probably not even talk to you right now here.
You think Stalin knew that there will be a war?
No of course he didn't, USSR didn't have any intelligence and these times were not in turmoil and full of tensions. Stalin never had reports on his table from NKVD agents, the whole party apparatus since the beginning and up to the 1941 was in a lethargic dream. And in fact not a single country knew it, the world was profoundly imbued with love and benevolence.
In 1941 when the Soviet industry was evacuated behind the Ural, it quickly started to work. How do you think why? In the fancies of idiots of course they start to work if you simply toss the machinery and engineering tools into the snow out of the train cars, and voila you have the industry. But normal people know that in order to make them work you need to build foundation, substructure, communication facilities, electricity supply, water pumps and many other things. Can you build it fast? No you can't, but how the industry started to work so quickly after evacuation? Any guesses? Right, because everything was prepaired in advance.
Now the million question: why the heck stupid bolsheviks prepaired it there? For fun? According to the common sense they did prepair, because they clearly knew that the war is inevitable. Idiots will continue to highlight their rank of idiots and claim that it is a pure coincidence.
Liberal auditorium doesn't want to to face the fact that the fittest survives, the weakest quickly ceases to exist, and this rule particulary was in force during the 20s 30s and 40s.
So in the frames of those times such industrialization does not sound like reckless. It was normal for that period, and he who thinks that if Stalin would took a power in Russia now, would use the same approaches as in 30s is either mentally sick and need an urgent brain examination, or simply lies on purpose pursuing some propagandistic aims.