So, here’s two words you won’t associate with communism: efficiency and productivity. And why on earth would you? It took little less than 40 years for communism to crack, though the warning indicators were on well before that. Don’t believe us? Then take the example of Ursus.
While the Ursus brand actually began life in 1893, Poland’s first tractor factory only really attained household (not to say comic) recognition after the war. Following wartime destruction it took a couple of years for the plant to be reactivated, with the first tractor rolling out to much fanfare in 1947.
“A Gift from the Worker & the Engineer on the 1st May to our Brother the Peasant,” or so proclaimed one rather rambling banner.
The designs, at the time, were considered modern, futuristic even, and at this stage everything looked rosy. Things got better still for Ursus in the 1970s, primarily thanks to the billion dollar loans Poland was cashing from the West. With a bit of money in its pocket, the government chose to build a new Ursus factory in no man’s land, Warsaw, one that would produce 75,000 tractors per year.
Which is where it all went wrong. It was years down the line when those on the factory floor realized that the nuts and bolts that had been ordered were the wrong size, and that the engines had been designed for Western quality diesel – not the stuff readily available in Poland. A series of nationwide strikes further paralyzed the plant, and it was over ten years till the first tractor was ready – by which time many of the parts, which had been sat outside for a decade, had already rusted. And as for that annual production figure of 75,000? Ursus hit 500 – in short, it was all one big cock-up, and a great instance of When Communism Goes Wrong.