This chapter is an attempt to arrive at a sociological description of the social process of the creation of Warsaw’s local cultural memory of the Second World War. Using the perspective defined by Nora (2001) as second-degree history, I ask the questions: what becomes of the past in collective practices and collective memory, and what kind of interpretations are created, reinforced and institutionalized – when, by whom, and for what purpose? I have selected memorials related to two events: the Warsaw Rising (1 August to 2 October 1944) and the end of the German occupation of that part of Warsaw situated on the left bank of the Vistula River (17 January 1945). These war memorials in Warsaw are interesting as external, material manifestations of the social process of the commemoration of the past. The analysis is based on a variety of sources, including recorded observations, photographs of the memorials, historical and artistic studies, and opinions collected in surveys and expressed by the media and internet users at historical and community portals. The final body of material was the product of a research project (2009–2012), but neither its scope nor the type of data had been categorically specified in advance in the research plan. I used two criteria for the selection and classification of the units under observation – that is, memorials. The first criterion was that they had to be monuments commemorating two specific wartime events in Warsaw: the Warsaw Rising and the end of the German occupation. The second criterion was the historical time at which the memorials were erected: between 1945 and 2011. As the historical period thus defined is a socially and politically diverse era, I have divided it into three subperiods:

first period: 1945–1955, which I have called the period of instalment of pro-Soviet rule;

second period: 1956–1989, the years of limited sovereignty of the Polish People’s Republic; and

third period, the post-Communist Third Republic of Poland, beginning with the election of 4 June 1989.

The analysis covers a dozen or so war memorials in Warsaw. The oldest memorial was unveiled in Warsaw on 18 November 1945 and the newest was built in 2011. The examples were selected in such a way as to cover all three of the above-mentioned periods and to illustrate the changes taking place in the practices of commemorating selected events, changes in collective memory and in the politics of memory.