Voronezj är en stad i sydvästra Ryssland, inte så långt från gränsen till Ukraina. Den är huvudort i Voronezj oblast och är belägen vid Voronezjfloden, med floden Don några kilometer väster om staden. Folkmängden uppgår till cirka 1 miljon invånare.
Voronezh originates as a settlement of the Kievan Rus in about the 12th century, first mentioned in the Hypatian Codex (dated 1177). The Voronezh River is likely named for the settlement, then in the Principality of Chernigov. The toponym is usually derived from a Slavic personal name Voroneg, apparently a derivation from voron “raven”,
Voronezh was presumably still in existence when Chernigov was absorbed into the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in the 15th century; Voronezh itself was not part of the territory of the Grand Duchy, the middle Don basin, including the Voronezh river, during the 15th century formed part of the marches separating the Grand Duchies of Lithuania and Muscovy from the Golden Horde. In the 16th century, the area was gradually conquered by Muscovy from the Nogai Horde (a successor state of the Golden Horde), and the current city of Voronezh was established in 1585 by Feodor I as a fort protecting the Muravsky Trail trade route against the raids of the Nogai and Crimean Tatars.
17th to 20th centuries
In the 19th century, Voronezh was a center of the Central Black Earth Region. Manufacturing industry (mills, tallow-melting, butter-making, soap, leather, and other works) as well as bread, cattle, suet, and the hair trade developed in the town. A railway connected Voronezh with Rostov-on-Don in 1868 and Moscow in 1871.
During World War II, Voronezh was the scene of fierce fighting between Russian and combined Axis troops. The Germans used it as a staging area for their attack on Stalingrad, and made it a key crossing point on the Don River. In June 1941, two BM-13 (Fighting machine #13 Katyusha) artillery installations were built at the Voronezh excavator factory. In July, the construction of Katyushas was rationalized so that their manufacture became easier and the time of volley repetition was shortened from five minutes to fifteen seconds. More than 300 BM-13 units manufactured in Voronezh were used in a counterattack near Moscow in December 1941. In October 22, 1941, the advance of the German troops prompted the establishment of a defense committee in the city. On November 7, 1941, there was a troop parade, devoted to the anniversary of the October Revolution. Only three such parades were organized that year: in Moscow, Kuybyshev, and Voronezh. In late June 1942, the city was attacked by German and Hungarian forces. In response, Soviet forces formed the Voronezh Front. By July 6, the German army occupied the western river-bank suburbs before being subjected to a fierce Soviet counter-attack. The city was completely under Axis control by July 24. This was the opening move of Case Blue.
Until January 25, 1943, parts of the Second German Army and the Second Hungarian Army occupied Voronezh. During Operation Little Saturn, the Ostrogozhsk–Rossosh Offensive, and the Voronezhsko-Kastornenskoy Offensive, the Voronezh Front exacted heavy casualties on Axis forces. On January 25, 1943, Voronezh was liberated after ten days of combat. During the war the city was almost completely ruined, with 92% of all buildings destroyed.
In 1989, TASS published details of an alleged UFO landing in the city’s park and purported encounters with extraterrestrial beings reported by a number of children. A Russian scientist that was cited in initial TASS reports later told the Associated Press that he was misquoted, cautioning, “Don’t believe all you hear from TASS,” and “We never gave them part of what they published”, and a TASS correspondent admitted the possibility that some “make-believe” had been added to the TASS story, saying, “I think there is a certain portion of truth, but it is not excluded that there is also fantasizing”. By 1950, Voronezh was rebuilt. Most buildings and historical monuments were repaired. In 1950–1960, new factories were established: a tire factory, a machine-tool factory, a factory of heavy mechanical pressing, and others. In 1968, Serial production of the Tupolev Tu-144 supersonic plane was established at the Voronezh Aviation factory. In October 1977, the first Soviet domestic wide-body plane, Ilyushin Il-86, was built there.
Between 1991 and 2000, the city, suffering from high unemployment rates, became a part of the Communist-voting region known as Russia’s “Red Belt”.