Slava Ukraini, heroyam slava! History of the slogan – Kiev Private Tours
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Cossacks are heroes of Ukraine
18 Aug

Slava Ukraini, heroyam slava! History of the slogan

Today it is no surprise to hear the phrase “Slava Ukraini!” (Glory to Ukraine) in the streets. However, the reaction to it may be different. Someone will cheerfully respond, “Heroyam slava!” (Glory to the Heroes); yet other will pass by, muttering something with displeasure. Some even consider it fascist, which is used only in “banderivska”, “nationalist” Western Ukraine.

Due to the growing popularity of this statement, we have decided to search for the true roots of this slogan.

Let’s start with the fact that two parts of the greeting appeared not at the same time. According to historian Volodymyr Vyatrovich, the phrase “Glory to Ukraine” became a part of the Ukrainian vocabulary in the 1920s, which, by the way, was long before the Ukrainian Insurgent Army appeared (and before Hitler came to power too). In his book, Yuri Horlis-Horsky writes that he heard this phrase from several rebels of the Kholodnyi Yar. They were used to greeting each other with the words “Glory to Ukraine!”, and the response was “Ukraine’s glory!”

In the 1930’s, members of OUN (Organization of Ukrainian nationalists) began to use the greeting we all know today.  The response “Glory to the heroes!” has become a testimony of deep respect for the people who gave their lives in struggle for their homeland. The rebels thus transferred the memory of these brave fighters to future generations.

Slogan “Glory to Ukraine!” was actively spread in 1940-50, when the insurgent movement was at the peak of its activity.

Slava Ukraini Heroyam Slava

The next reminders of the slogan date back to the 90’s, when we received the relative freedom of speech and the ability to organize at least some public meetings and manifestations (before we have somehow forgotten what is it). In 2004, one could hear this slogan during the Orange Revolution.

Mr. Volodymyr believes that the popularization of this term today is a phenomenon that is quite obvious and understandable: modern Ukrainians feel descendants of glorious heroes who once fought for the Ukrainian state.

If we return to the question of the origin of the slogan, they say that it arose in the horse regiment of the Black Zaporizhians – the formation of the Army of Ukrainian National Republic during 1918-1920. The only difference with the present usage is that they are literally greeted each other with the phrases “Glory to Ukraine!” – “The glory of Cossacks!”. One can also find information that very similar phrases “Glory to Ukraine! – Hetman’s glory!” were used during the II Hetmanate of Pavlo Skoropadsky.

Pavlo Skoropadsky - hetman of Ukraine

Recently, the rumors have come up that this is a literal translation from Hitler’s “Heil Hitler”. At the beginning of this publication, we have already mentioned the discrepancy in the dates. However, most people forget about the popular greetings among Christians, which literally sounds as “Glory to Jesus Christ! – Glory to God forever”. It is possible that the roots of a modern” fascist” phrase are in fact of a pure religious origin. And what is wrong with respecting our o land, which was given to us by the Creator, so that we take care of it?

Let’s not forget that in the Soviet Union a lot of things were awarded to “praise”, for example: “Glory to labor,” “Glory to science”, “Glory to the Soviet system” – should they also be considered fascist?! And why nobody has any discontent over the slogan “Glory to great Stalin”. In the light of the past, it is also difficult to perceive it positively.



Another interesting fact is that on the way to Novorossiysk, there is a banner, which reads “Glory to the Kuban! – Glory to the heroes!” It turns out not only “nazi-bEnderivtsi” use this “immoral” slogan. And why do Russian authorities calmly react to such usage of the slogan and yet condemn another?!

From ancient times, these greeting and answer are commonly used among the Kuban Cossacks, who are now said to be the greatest patriots of Russia. They 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!”

Only one question remains open – who has first started to use the slogan:)

However, it should also be noted that now often you can hear phrases like “Glory to the nation” or “Death to enemies”. These are the expressions that more radical groups use, and that can make people a little confused. In the end, one need to be careful with that too, because there was a case when on a Canadian television channel, “Glory to the Nation” was confused with “Glory to the Nazis”. You can imagine how people reacted!

It is also 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. It would be desirable that today it was perceived precisely, and not considered a tourist amusement or a reason for controversy.

To know more about ukrainian culture and history, book private walking tours by Guide me UA.

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Kate Dobromishev

Tour Guide in Guide me UA / English language / Private Tours in Kyiv

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