In August 1992, one year after the "three days that shook the world," Memorial hosted an unprecedented international conference in Moscow. Its importance lay only partly in the informed, experiential, scientific presentations of its distinguished participants who gathered to discuss the dissident movement from the 1950s to the 1980s. The conference's larger significance derived from its very being, from the fact that it occurred at all, a fact validated by this convocation. As a historical society (with a barely hidden agenda), Memorial had triumphed first by enduring, next by prevailing, 1 and finally by celebrating its historicity by self-reflection.
Ironically and appropriately, the gathering was held on the grounds of the former higher Communist Party school. The Russian State University of the Humanities (RGGU) has become the new occupant of its campus. The location provided other telling ironies. Both on November 7, 1991 (Revolution Day), and on April 22, 1992 ( Lenin's birthday), flowers had been laid at one of the last remaining busts of Lenin. In August 1992, only the flowers remained at that site--Lenin had been replaced by a garden! The long, sparsely lit corridors of the dormitory, which used to be trodden by privileged foreign communists who came to the capital to brush up on their studies of Marx and Engels, are now occupied by national and international students, guests of Memorial and visiting scholars.
Memorial's power to choose the time, the place, and the people for this conference reflects a major change in its status since its first international conference on oral history held in 1989 (see Chapter 6). In the fall of 1991, the Interrepublic Memorial received official registration at the RSFSR