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a city in E Ukraine: capital of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic (1917--34); university (1805). Pop.: 1 436 000 (2005 est.)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a city and the administrative center of Kharkov Oblast, Ukrainian SSR. The capital of the Ukrainian SSR until 1934, Kharkov today is a major industrial, cultural, and scientific center of the USSR. Covering an area of 303 sq km the city lies at the confluence of the Kharkov, Lopan’, and Uda rivers, all tributaries of the Severskii Donets. It is a junction of railroad lines, highways, and air routes linking the western, central, and eastern regions of the USSR with the Donbas, the Dnieper Region, the Crimea, and the Caucasus.

With a population of 1,405,000 in 1977, Kharkov is the second largest city in the Ukrainian SSR, after Kiev. Its population has grown from 417,000 in 1926 and 840,000 in 1939 to 953,000 in 1959 and 1,223,000 in 1970. It is divided into nine urban districts.

Founded circa 1655–56 by Ukrainian cossacks, Kharkov became a fortress on the southern frontier of the Russian state, providing protection against raids by the Crimean Tatars. Until 1768 it was the regimental headquarters of the Kharkov-Slobodskii Cossack Regiment. Subsequently, it served as the administrative center of Slobodskaia Ukraina Province (1765–80 and 1797–1835), the Kharkov Namestnichestvo (vicegerency, 1780–96) and Kharkov Province (1835–1925).

The first industrial enterprises—copper-smelting and metal-working workshops and an iron foundry—were established in the city in the first half of the 19th century. A university was founded here in 1805. Between 1856 and 1858 the Kharkov-Kiev Secret Society conducted propaganda against the autocracy and serfdom.

In the second half of the 19th century, machine-building enterprises were established in Kharkov, including plants producing agricultural machinery and steam locomotives. The city became an important transport junction, linked by rail with Rostov-on-Don and Kiev in 1873 and with Sevastopol’ in 1875. By the early 20th century, the city had more than 130 industrial enterprises employing 16,700 workers. During the 1870’s, Kharkov was one of the centers of the Populist movement. The first Marxist groups were organized in the early 1890’s, and a committee of the RSDLP was formed in 1898. The Kharkov May Day Demonstration of 1900 was an important event in the national workers’ movement. The Forward group, founded in 1905, constituted itself a Bolshevik committee of the RSDLP. During the Revolution of 1905–07, Kharkov was one of the centers of the revolutionary movement in the Ukraine.

Soviet power was established in the city on Nov. 10–24 (Nov. 23–Dec. 7), 1917. Meeting here on Dec. 11–12 (24–25), 1917, the First All-Ukrainian Congress of Soviets proclaimed the creation of the Ukrainian Soviet Republic with Kharkov as its capital. Occupied by German troops in 1918 and early 1919 and then seized by Denikin’s forces, the city was liberated by the Red Army on Dec. 12, 1919. It was the capital of the Ukrainian SSR until 1934, and since 1932 it has been the administrative center of Kharkov Oblast.

During the years of Soviet power, a number of large machine-building plants were constructed, among them the Kharkov Tractor Plant (1931). By 1940, Kharkov was providing a significant proportion of the machine output of the Ukrainian SSR. On Oct. 24, 1941, the city was occupied by fascist German troops, who destroyed almost all its industrial enterprises and burned down most of its residential buildings. During the occupation underground party and Komsomol organizations operated in the city under the direction of an underground oblast committee of the Communist Party (Bolshevik) of the Ukraine. Fierce battles were fought around Kharkov in February and March 1943, when the city was held by Soviet troops from February 16 through March 15. Kharkov was finally liberated by the Soviet Army on Aug. 23, 1943. After the war, a tremendous effort went into rebuilding the city and restoring and developing its economy and culture. On Dec. 4, 1970, the city was awarded the Order of Lenin.

The principal industrial sectors—machine building, metal-working, light industry, and food processing—account for more than 85 percent of the city’s industrial output and employ about 85 percent of the industrial workers. Other well-developed sectors include the production of building materials, chemicals and pharmaceuticals, and wood products.

Kharkov is the third largest center of machine building in the USSR (after Moscow and Leningrad) and the leading center in the Ukraine. It has a number of large enterprises that produce machinery for the power industry and electrical machinery and equipment, among them the S. M. Kirov Kharkov Turbine Plant, the V. I. Lenin Elektrotiazhmash Plant, the Kharkov Electrical Machinery Plant, an electrical equipment plant, the Elektroma-shina Plant, and the Iuzhkabel Plant. Agricultural machinery, chiefly tractors, is built by the Sergo Ordzhonikidze Kharkov Tractor Works, which operates in close cooperation with such specialized plants as the Serp i Molot Engine Plant, a tractor chassis plant, a tractor starter-engine plant, and the Porshen’ Plant. Machine tools and tools are manufactured by the S. V. Kosior Machine Tool Plant and by a multihead lathe plant. The instrument-making industry is represented by a plant producing regulating and measuring instruments, a plant manufacturing mine-surveying instruments, the Teploavtomat Plant, and the Tochmedpribor Plant. Transport machinery is produced by the V. A. Malyshev Plant and a bicycle plant. Equipment for mining, hoisting and handling, and road building is manufactured by the Svet Shakhtera Plant, the V. I. Lenin Hoisting and Handling Equipment Plant, an excavator plant, a road machinery plant, and a drilling equipment plant. Technological equipment for retail enterprises and communal services systems is produced by the Konditsioner Plant, a communal services and trade machine-building plant, a refrigerator plant, and the Electrobritva Plant. There are also plants producing printing machinery (Poligraf-mash) and ball bearings.

Light industry is represented by enterprises engaged in the primary processing of wool and the production of woollen fabrics (Krasnaia Nit’ Wool Association), cotton fabrics (cotton association), knitwear and hosiery (knitwear association, hosiery factory), leather and footwear (Bolshevik Leather Association, a footwear association), and fur goods (fur association). Clothing is produced by the Kharkov, Detodezhda, and Kommunar garment associations, and the E. D. Tiniakov Factory. The food-processing industry includes meat-packing and dairy enterprises and plants producing fats and oils, confectionery (Oktiabr’ Factory), beer, and sparkling wines. Perfume and tobacco products are also manufactured.

In addition to a housing construction combine, the city has more than ten plants producing reinforced-concrete structural members and products, a cement plant, and enterprises manufacturing facing tiles, ceramic floor tiles, wall and roofing materials, gypsum and plaster, insulation, and asbestos-cement materials.

The chemical industry is represented by the Monokristallreaktiv Research and Production Association, the Kharplastmass Plant, and plants producing medical plastics, autogenous welders, household chemicals, paints and varnishes (Krasnyi Khimik Plant), and chemical pharmaceuticals (Krasnaia Zvezda Plant). The woodworking industry includes a wood-products combine, a sawmill, a box plant, and furniture factories. The city’s electrical power is provided mainly by steam power plants fueled by coal and by natural gas shipped via the Shebelinka-Kharkov pipeline. The transportation system includes subways. As of Jan. 1, 1977 the city had 18.8 million sq m of housing.

A. P. GOLIKOV and V. M. KRAVCHENKO (economy)

Kharkov has three fine architectural works dating from before the 19th century: the Pokrovskii Cathedral (1689), the Uspenskii Cathedral (1771), and the 18th-century baroque Catherine Palace, now the Ukrainian Correspondence Polytechnical Institute. In the second half of the 19th and early 20th centuries the city acquired public buildings and apartment houses, built in the eclectic style. The Land Bank (1898), Moscow Bank (1900), and V. G. Korolenko Library (1898), all designed by A. N. Beketov, reflect a modernized classical style. The Art School (now Art Institute) was built in 1913 in the Ukrainian art nouveau style (architect, K. M. Zhukov).

The 1920’s and 1930’s saw intensive construction of housing and grand public buildings. Largely destroyed in World War II, Kharkov has been completely rebuilt. Its main architectural ensemble, Dzerzhinskii Square, covers 11.9 hectares and is dominated by the Gosprom Building (1925–29), designed by S. S. Serafimov in the constructivist style. In the center of the square stands a bronze and granite monument to V. I. Lenin, executed in 1963 by the sculptors M. K. Vronskii and A. P. Oleinik. Two fine residential districts date from the 1970’s: Pavlovo Pole (1970–74) and Saltovka (1970–75). Construction has followed a general plan, adopted in 1972. Noteworthy memorial structures are the T. G. Shevchenko Monument (bronze and granite, 1935), executed by the sculptor M. G. Manizer and the architect I. G. Langbard, a monument commemorating the establishment of Soviet power in the Ukraine (granite, 1974), and the Glory Memorial (1971).

The city’s 20 institutions of higher learning include the University of Kharkov, the Kharkov Polytechnic Institute, the Kharkov Agricultural Institute, the Kharkov Industrial Arts Institute, and institutes of aviation, engineering economics, electronics, and teacher education. There are 37 specialized secondary schools and a number of research institutes. As of Jan. 1, 1976, cultural life centered on a historical museum, an art museum, the N. V. Lysenko Theater of Opera and Ballet, the T. G. Shevchenko Ukrainian Drama Theater, the A. S. Pushkin Russian Drama Theater, the Ukrainian Theater of Musical Comedy, the Young People’s Theater, the N. K. Krupskaia Puppet Theater, and the Philharmonic Society.

As of 1975, the city published three oblast-level newspapers, the Ukrainian-language Sotsialistychna Kharkivshchyna (Socialist Kharkov Oblast, since 1917) and Lenins’ka zmina (Lenin’s Successors, since 1934) and the Russian-language Krasnoe znamia (Red Banner, since 1938), as well as a city newspaper, the Ukrainian language Vechirnii Kharkiv (Evening Kharkov), founded in 1969.

In addition to two programs of All-Union Radio (44 hours daily), the city’s inhabitants receive the republic information program (19 hours daily), the joint union-republic program (19 hours daily), and a local program (2.5 hours daily), which are broadcast in Russian and Ukrainian. There are two television programs: the first relays broadcasts of Central Television (13.4 hours daily) and the second carries telecasts from the Kiev Studio (nine hours daily) and local broadcasts (1.8 hours daily), conducted in Ukrainian and Russian.

As of Jan. 1, 1976, there were 67 hospitals with 19,700 beds (14.2 beds per 1,000 inhabitants), compared to 63 hospitals with 10,300 beds in 1940. During this period the number of practicing physicians more than doubled, increasing from 4,000 to 8,800 (one per 157 inhabitants). There are 54 nursery schools (1976) with 4,700 places and 397 nursery-kindergartens with 67,500 places. The city has 13 institutes of medical research, medicine, and pharmacology, as well as three secondary schools for the study of medicine. Medical treatment is available at the balneological health resorts of Berezovskie Mineral’nye Vody and Rai-Elenovka, 11 sanatoriums, and five houses of rest, located in Kharkov and its environs.


Mikhailik, A. F. Khar’kovu—300 let. Kharkov, 1958. (Bibliography, pp. 154–58.)
D’iachenko, N. T., M. V. Umanskii, and V. V. Oleinik. Kharkov: Putevoditel’, 2nd ed. Kharkov, 1967.
D’iachenko, N. T. Ulitsy i ploshchadi Khar’kova, 3rd ed. Kharkov, 1974.
Khar’kiv u tsyfrakh i faktakh: Dovidnyk. Kharkov, 1967.
Khar’kovskii metropoliten. Kharkov, 1975.
Erpuleva, V. N. Kharkov: Gorod segodnia. Fotoocherk. Kharkov, 1975.
Istoriia gorodov i sel Ukrainskoi SSR, v 26-ti tt., vol. 1: Khar kovskaia oblast’. Kiev, 1976.
Khar’kovshchina v desiatoi piatiletke. Kharkov, 1977.
Khar’kov: Kratkaia spravochnaia kniga. Kharkov, 1976.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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