The Bilderberg Group or Bilderberg Club
The Bilderberg Group, Bilderberg conference, or Bilderberg Club is an annual, unofficial, invitation-only conference of around 130 guests, most of whom are persons of influence in the fields of politics, banking, business, the military and media. Each conference is closed to the public and the press.
The original conference was held at the Hotel de Bilderberg, near Arnhem in The Netherlands, from 29 May to 31 May 1954. It was initiated by several people, including Józef Retinger, concerned about the growth of anti-Americanism in Western Europe, who proposed an international conference at which leaders from European countries and the United States would be brought together with the aim of promoting atlanticism – better understanding between the cultures of theUnited States and Western Europe in order to foster cooperation on political, economic, and defense issues. Retinger approached Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands, who agreed to promote the idea, together with Belgian Prime Minister Paul Van Zeeland, and the head of Unilever at that time, Dutchman Paul Rijkens. Bernhard in turn contacted Walter Bedell Smith, then head of the CIA, who asked Eisenhower adviser Charles Douglas Jackson to deal with the suggestion. The guest list was to be drawn up by inviting two attendees from each nation, one of each to represent conservative and liberal points of view.Fifty delegates from 11 countries in Western Europe attended the first conference along with 11 Americans.
The success of the meeting led the organizers to arrange an annual conference. A permanent Steering Committee was established, with Retinger appointed as permanent secretary. As well as organizing the conference, the steering committee also maintained a register of attendee names and contact details, with the aim of creating an informal network of individuals who could call upon one another in a private capacity. Conferences were held in France, Germany, andDenmark over the following three years. In 1957, the first US conference was held in St. Simons, Georgia, with $30,000 from the Ford Foundation. The foundation supplied further funding for the 1959 and 1963 conferences.
Meetings are organized by a steering committee with two members from each of around eighteen nations. Official posts, in addition to a chairman, include an Honorary Secretary General. There is no such category in the group’s rules as a “member of the group”. The only category that exists is “member of the Steering Committee”. In addition to the committee, there also exists a separate advisory group, though membership overlaps.
Dutch economist Ernst van der Beugel took over as permanent secretary in 1960, upon Retinger’s death. Prince Bernhard continued to serve as the meeting’s chairman until 1976, the year of his involvement in the Lockheed affair. The position of Honorary American Secretary General has been held successively byJoseph E. Johnson of the Carnegie Endowment, William Bundy of Princeton, Theodore L. Eliot, Jr., former U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan, and Casimir A. Yost of Georgetown’s Institute for the Study of Diplomacy.
A 2008 press release from the American Friends of Bilderberg stated that “Bilderberg’s only activity is its annual Conference. At the meetings, no resolutions are proposed, no votes taken, and no policy statements issued” and noted that the names of attendees were available to the press. The Bilderberg group unofficial headquarters is the University of Leiden in the Netherlands.
According to the American Friends of Bilderberg, the 2008 agenda dealt “mainly with a nuclear free world, cyber terrorism, Africa, Russia, finance, protectionism, US-EU relations, Afghanistan and Pakistan, Islam and Iran”.
- Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands (1954–1975)
- Alec Douglas-Home (1977–1980)
- Walter Scheel
- Eric Roll (1986–1989)
- Lord Carrington (1990–1998)
- Étienne Davignon
The steering committee does not publish a list of attendees, though some participants have publicly discussed their attendance. Historically, attendee lists have been weighted towards politicians, bankers, and directors of large businesses.
Heads of state, including Juan Carlos I of Spain and Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, have attended meetings.Prominent politicians from North America and Europe are past attendees. In past years, board members from many large publicly-traded corporations have attended, including IBM, Xerox, Royal Dutch Shell, Nokia and Daimler.
The 2009 meeting participants in Greece included: Greek prime minister Kostas Karamanlis; Finnish prime ministerMatti Vanhanen; Sweden foreign minister Carl Bildt; U.S. State Department number two James Steinberg; U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner; World Bank president Robert Zoellick; European Commission head José Manuel Barroso; Queen Sofia of Spain; and Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands.
In a European Parliament session in Brussels, Mario Borghezio, an Italian member of the European Parliament, questioned the nominations of Bilderberg andTrilateral attendees for the posts of EU President and EU foreign minister.
In 2009 the group had a dinner meeting at Castle of the Valley of the Duchess in Brussels on 12th November with the participation of Herman Van Rompuy, who later became the President of the European Council.
Because of its secrecy and refusal to issue news releases, the group is frequently accused of secretive and nefarious plots. Critics include the John Birch Society, a producerist advocacy group in the United States, Canadian writer Daniel Estulin, British writer David Icke, American writer Jim Tucker, politicianJesse Ventura and radio host Alex Jones. The Bilderberg Group was the topic of a 2009 episode of the TruTV series Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura.
To say we were striving for a one-world government is exaggerated, but not wholly unfair. Those of us in Bilderberg felt we couldn’t go on forever fighting one another for nothing and killing people and rendering millions homeless. So we felt that a single community throughout the world would be a good thing.
In 2005 the then chairman Etienne Davignon discussed these accusations with the BBC.
It is unavoidable and it doesn’t matter. There will always be people who believe in conspiracies but things happen in a much more incoherent fashion…When people say this is a secret government of the world I say that if we were a secret government of the world we should be bloody ashamed of ourselves.
G. William Domhoff, a research professor in psychology and sociology who studies theories of power, sees the role of social clubs such as Bilderberg as being nothing more than a means to create social cohesion within a power elite. He adds that those understandings of the clubs such as the Bilderberg fit with the perceptions of the members of the elite. In a 2004 interview with New Internationalist magazine, Domhoff warns progressives against getting distracted by conspiracy theories which demonize and scapegoat such clubs. He argues that the opponents of progressivism are corporate elite, the Republican Party, andconservative Democrats. It is the same people more or less, but it puts them in their most important roles, as capitalists and political leaders, which are visible.
Origins of conspiracy theories
Before the 2001 meeting, a report in the Guardian stated:
…the press have never been allowed access and all discussions are under Chatham House rules (no quoting). Not surprisingly, such ground rules, while attracting publicity-shy financiers, have also fuelled the fantasies of conspiracy theorists.
Jonathan Duffy, writing in BBC News Online Magazine states:
No reporters are invited in and while confidential minutes of meetings are taken, names are not noted… In the void created by such aloofness, an extraordinary conspiracy theory has grown up around the group that alleges the fate of the world is largely decided by Bilderberg.
Investigative journalist Chip Berlet, notes the existence of Bilderberger conspiracy theories as early as 1964 in the writings of conservative political activistPhyllis Schlafly. In Berlet’s 1994 report Right Woos Left, published by Political Research Associates, he writes:
The views on intractable godless communism expressed by Schwarz were central themes in three other bestselling books which were used to mobilize support for the 1964 Barry Goldwater campaign. The best known was Phyllis Schlafly’s A Choice, Not an Echo, which suggested a conspiracy theory in which the Republican Party was secretly controlled by elitist intellectuals dominated by members of the Bilderberger group, whose policies would pave the way for global communist conquest.
- 2005 (5–8 May) at the Dorint Sofitel Seehotel Überfahrt in Rottach-Egern, Germany
- 2006 (8–11 June) at the Brookstreet Hotel in Kanata, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
- 2007 (31 May – 3 June) at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, in Şişli, Istanbul, Turkey.
- 2008 (5–8 June) at the Westfields Marriott in Chantilly, Virginia, United States
- 2009 (14–16 May) at the Astir Palace resort in Athens, Greece
1 ^ a b Hatch, Alden (1962). “The Hôtel de Bilderberg”. H.R.H.Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands: An authorized biography. London: Harrap. ISBN B0000CLLN4. “The idea was to get two people from each country who would give the conservative and liberal slant”
- ^ a b c “Bilderberg Meeting of 1997 Assembles”. PR Newswire. 13 June 1997.
- ^ “Parliamentary questions: Answer given by Mr Prodi on behalf of the Commission”. European Parliament. 15 May 2003.
- ^ Entry for Conrad Black, The International Who’s Who. Europa Publications. 2000.
- ^ “Bilderberg: List of Invitees”. United States Department of Defense. 31 January 1996. Retrieved 6 June 2009.
- ^ a b c “Bilderberg Announces 2008 Conference”. BusinessWire. 2008. Retrieved 7 June 2008.
- ^ Marcus Klöckner (17 May 2009). “Bilderberg meetings remain a mystery”. Stars and Stripes.
- ^ a b “Twenty-fifth Bilderberg meeting held”. Facts on File World News Digest. May 14, 1977. “Alec Douglas-Home, the former prime minister of Great Britain [sic], chaired the conference, replacing Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands, who had previously headed the Bilderberg invitation committee. (Prince Bernhard had resigned all public positions after the 1976 Lockheed scandal.)”
- ^ Who’s Who. 1999.
- ^ Caroline Moorehead (18 April 1977). “An exclusive club, perhaps without power, but certainly with influence: The Bilderberg group”. The Times.
- ^ Mark Oliver (4 June 2004). “The Bilderberg group”. The Guardian.
- ^ “Prime Minister Vanhanen and Minister of Finance Katainen to attend Bilderberg Conference”. Finnish Government. 13 May 2009.
- ^ “Bilderberg Group Meets In Athens Amid Tight Security”. NASDAQ.
- ^ http://www.ilvelino.it/articolo.php”Id=997488
- ^ “Premier steekt nek uit op Bilderberg-diner”. HP/De Tijd. 21 November 2009. Retrieved 22 November 2009.
- ^ “Herman Van Rompuy, front-runner for presidency, wants EU-wide tax”. Times Online. 17 November 2009. Retrieved 20 November 2009.
- ^ “Van Rompuy shows his hand at Bilderberg Group dinner”. Flanders Today. 14 November 2009. Retrieved 20 November 2009.
- ^ Berlet, Chip (Fall 1998, revised 4/15/99). Dances with Devils: How Apocalyptic and Millennialist Themes Influence Right Wing Scapegoating and Conspiracism. Retrieved 2009-07-23.
- ^ truTV – List of episodes for Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura
- ^ Ronson, Jon (10 March 2001). “Who pulls the strings? (part 3)”. The Guardian. Retrieved 14 May 2009.
- ^ Bill Hayton (29 September 2005). “Inside the secretive Bilderberg Group”. BBC News.
- ^ Berlet, Chip (September 2004). Interview: G. William Domhoff. Retrieved 2009-10-01.
- ^ Madeleine Bunting (Friday 25 May 2001). “Weekend break for the global elite”. The Guardian.
- ^ Jonathan Duffy (3 June 2004). “Bilderberg: The ultimate conspiracy theory”. BBC News.
- ^ Chip Berlet (1994). “The New Right & The Secular Humanism Conspiracy Theory”.
- ^ “Asia Times Online :: Asian News, Business and Economy.”. Retrieved 22 August 2007.
- ^ Panetta, Alexander (2006). “Secretive Bilderbergers meet”. www.thestar.com. Toronto Star Newspapers Limited. Retrieved 12 June 2006.
- ^ What was discussed at Bilderberg?, Turkish Daily News, 5 June 2007, accessed on 18 August 2007
- ^ “Balkenende to Meet Bush in Washington”. NIS News Bulletin. 2008. Retrieved 25 May 2008.
- ^ “The most powerful elite will meet in Athens”. GRReporter. 23 March 2009. “the club will organize its meeting in Athens between 14 and 16 May”
- ^ “Guardian.co.uk Charlie Skelton’s Bilderberg files”. Retrieved 15 May 2009.
- ^ “Japan–U.S. Relations—Past, Present and Future”. The Daily Yomiuri. December 8, 1991. “Rockefeller: The idea (of creating the Trilateral Commission) was incorporated in a speech that I made in the spring of 1972 for the benefit of some industrial forums that the Chase held in different cities around Europe,… Then Zbig (Zbig Brzezinski) and I both attended a meeting of the Bilderberg Group … and was shot down in flames. There was very little enthusiasm for the idea. I think they felt that they had a very congenial group, and they didn’t want to have it interfered with by another element that would–I don’t know what they thought, but in any case, they were not in favor.”