Danubius, XXXV - Supliment, Galaţi, 2017, pp. 57-70.


The metallurgical enterprises of the East and South of Ukraine during the First World War, within the limits of the general militarization of the economy, sharply increased the execution of orders oriented to the needs of the front. These enterprises had a rather high technological level, which was conditioned by the peculiarities of the formation of the metal market on the eve of hostilities. Restrictions on export and import operations in the wake of the war have negatively affected on the supply of metal and rolled products on the all-Russian market. Since the beginning of the war due to the cessation of imports and the interruptions in the work of rail transport, the supply of metal on the market immediately fell by 10%, which led to rising prices.

A number of measures were taken to provide metallurgical enterprises with the necessary metal products and raw materials. The Minister of Commerce and Industry was given the authority and the means to purchase the relevant goods abroad. In order to save raw materials for metallurgical enterprises since September 1914 it was forbidden to export it from the European part of the territory of the Russian Empire.

The work of metallurgical enterprises was influenced by the reduction of the number of skilled workers due to their recruitment to the Armed Forces. This led to the fact that in the mines of Kryviy Rih, after the first mobilizations, there was an urgent need for labor. Mining of ore has decreased, as a result it was not enough even to meet the needs of local South-Ukrainian metallurgical plants.

In order to increase production, new employees were involved, including a growing proportion of women and, to a certain extent, of children. It was decided to return qualified specialists from the military service to the enterprises, to suspend the recruitment of certain categories of workers, technicians and employees, and to increase the number of prisoners of war who had to work at metallurgical enterprises.

The growth in the demand for products of the steel industry in the wake of the war accompanied by inflationary processes has led to an increase in prices for them. The decision was passed on the criminal liability of traders and industrialists for increasing or decreasing prices for food items or necessities, according to which the dumping or increase of prices by entrepreneurs in the previous agreement in order to generate additional profits or redistribution of profits among economic operators provided for punishment.

In 1916 the work of enterprises of the metallurgical industry of the East and South of Ukraine was affected by the spread of the strike movement. Riots and strikes arose as a result of agitation, during which economic motives were used and the treasury of sewage plants was required. Speaking for the sequestration of enterprises, employees expected from the state administration to provide more wages and reduce the workload.

Among the factors that significantly influenced the metallurgical industry during 1914–1917, one can distinguish a sharp increase in demand for metallurgical products, a relatively low level of development of the transport infrastructure of the Russian Empire, a deterioration in the personnel supply of industrial enterprises, mainly through large-scale mobilization and migration of a part of highly skilled specialists, the failure of the system of state management industry in the context of a protracted global military conflict along with the ideas about its course, which did not correspond to the realities of time, as well as the dependence on the supply of certain types of raw materials and equipment from outside the country.