Abstract. The value of the narratives of the participants in the Great Patriotic War as historical sources is increasing because of the gradual disappearance of the generation of front-line soldiers. The first polls among front-line soldiers were carried out during the war years, but these sources remained unclaimed for a long time. Fiction originally played a major role in the creation of ideas about front-line soldiers. In Soviet and foreign historical science, the issues under consideration were not the subject of a special study. The publications of the memoirs of the participants in the war were greatly influenced by ideology. Only in the 1990s–2000s professional historians began to study the front-line generation as a social group. The formation of military-historical anthropology in Russia is essential for the development of new ideas about the participants in the Great Patriotic War, as well as publications of memoirs and diaries, and the development of oral history research in recent decades. The purpose of the article is to clarify the features of the formation of images of front-line soldiers who fought for their Motherland during the Great Patriotic War, in professional historiography and in their own memoirs. The article is written on the basis of historiographic and historical sources, including published and unpublished interviews with participants in the Great Patriotic War.
Keywords: Great Patriotic War, memoirs, diaries, narratives, historiography, memory of the war, oral history, front-line generation.