Government Factories

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Government Factories


in prerevolutionary Russia, state industrial enterprises under the jurisdiction of various government departments, such as war, navy, and mines.

The primary purpose of the government factories and works was to meet the government’s needs for military materiel; as a result, most of them were military, mining, or metallurgical works. Throughout their existence, the government factories were centers for the spread of technological innovations. In their own way they were schools at which workers and skilled craftsmen from private factories could learn. The government factories originated in the 17th century but became widespread only in the early 18th. State peasants were assigned to work in them. As far back as the early 18th century the government began to transfer these factories to private individuals. These transfers became common from the 1730’s through the 1750’s, but in the late 18th century the state bought back most of the former government factories, which had been ruined by their noble owners. In the 19th century the factories fell into decline and were not able to meet the needs of the state. This became especially apparent during the Crimean War of 1853– and in the 1860’s and 1870’s, when the factories were unable to reequip the Russian Army.

In the early 20th century the major government factories and works included several arsenals and the Tula Works, the Izhevsk Works, the Sestroretsk Armaments Works, the Okhta Powder Works, and the St. Petersburg Cartridge Works, all under the war department; the Obukhov and Izhora works and a number of shipyards, under the navy department; and the works at Perm’, Zlatoust, and Votkinsk, under the department of mines. On the eve of World War I, the government factories and works were the basic military suppliers for the Russian Army. During the war they increased their productivity but were still unable to provide the front with all the necessary matériel.

The workers in the government factories throughout their history were active in the class struggle. Among the largest revolutionary actions by workers in these factories, the most famous were the “Obukhov defense” in 1901, the struggle of the workers at the Zlatoust works in 1905–07, and a number of major strikes at the Perm’ Works in 1915–16.


Strumilin, S. G. Istoriia chernoi metallurgii v SSSR, vol. 1. Moscow, 1954.
Pavlenko, N. I. Istoriia metallurgii v Rossii XVIII v. Moscow, 1962.
Sigov, S. P. Ocherki po istorii gornozavodcheskoi promyshlennosti Urala. Sverdlovsk, 1936.
Sidorov, A. L. “K voprosu o stroitel’stve kazennykh voennykh zavodovv Rossii v gody pervoi mirovoi voiny.” In the collection Istoricheskiezapiski, [vol.] 54. [Moscow] 1955.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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