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The phrase “Slava Ukraini, heroyam slava!” (Glory to Ukraine, glory to the heroes!) is a popular slogan in Ukraine that has a rich history. The phrase “Glory to Ukraine” first appeared in the Ukrainian vocabulary in the 1920s, long before the Ukrainian Insurgent Army and Hitler came to power. According to historian Volodymyr Vyatrovich, rebels from the Kholodnyi Yar region would greet each other with the phrase “Glory to Ukraine,” and the response would be “Ukraine’s glory!”
In the 1930s, members of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) began using the greeting we know today. The response “Glory to the heroes!” became a testimony of deep respect for the people who gave their lives in the struggle for their homeland. The rebels passed down the memory of these brave fighters to future generations. The slogan “Glory to Ukraine!” was actively spread in the 1940s and 1950s when the insurgent movement was at the peak of its activity.
The slogan was then largely forgotten until the 1990s when Ukraine received relative freedom of speech and the ability to organize public meetings and demonstrations. In 2004, the slogan was heard during the Orange Revolution. Today, the popularization of this term is quite obvious and understandable; modern Ukrainians feel descendants of the glorious heroes who once fought for the Ukrainian state.
There are rumors that this slogan is a literal translation of Hitler’s “Heil Hitler.” However, most people forget about the popular Christian greeting, which literally sounds as “Glory to Jesus Christ! – Glory to God forever.” It is possible that the roots of this phrase are actually of pure religious origin. There is nothing wrong with respecting our land, which was given to us by the Creator, so that we take care of it.
It should be noted that the phrase “Glory to Ukraine!” is not unique to Ukraine; it is also used among the Kuban Cossacks, who are considered to be the greatest patriots of Russia. The Kuban Cossacks still greet each other with the words “Glory to Russia! Glory to the Kuban! Glory to the Kuban Cossack army!” There are facts that confirm the close connection between the greetings of the Kuban Cossacks and the Ukrainian insurgents. It is also said that in 1944, there were two sotnias of Cossack Insurgent Army in the Kuban, whose greetings were “Glory to the Kuban!” – “Glory to the heroes!”
However, there are more radical groups that use expressions like “Glory to the nation” or “Death to enemies,” which can make people confused. In the end, one needs to be careful with such expressions because there was a case when on a Canadian television channel, “Glory to the Nation” was confused with “Glory to the Nazis,” causing an uproar.
It is worth stressing that once “Glory to Ukraine! – Glory to the heroes!” was something more than just a slogan. It was a kind of hope for a better future. Today, it would be desirable that it is perceived precisely and not considered a tourist amusement or a reason for controversy.