Bilderberg Group

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Hotel de Bilderberg, Oosterbeek, the Netherlands - scene of the first Bildeberg Conference in 1954.

The Bilderberg Group, Bilderberg conference, or Bilderberg Club is an unofficial annual invitation-only conference of around 130 guests, most of whom are persons of influence in the fields of politics, business and banking.

The elite group meets annually at luxury hotels or resorts throughout the world — normally in Europe, and once every four years in the United States or Canada. It has an office in Leiden in the Netherlands.[1] The 2008 conference took place in Chantilly, Virginia.[2][3] and the 2009 meeting will take place from May 14-16 in Athens, Greece.[4]


[edit] Origin and purpose

The original Bilderberg conference was held at the Hotel de Bilderberg, near Arnhem in The Netherlands, from May 29 to May 31, 1954. It was initiated by several people, including Joseph 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 understanding between the cultures of United States of America and Western Europe.[5]

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, the Dutchman Paul Rijkens. Bernhard in turn contacted Walter Bedell Smith, then head of the CIA, who asked Eisenhower adviser C. D. Jackson to deal with the suggestion.[6] The guest list was to be drawn up by inviting two attendees from each nation, one each to represent conservative and liberal points of view.[7]

Brookstreet Hotel near Ottawa, during the 2006 meeting

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, and Denmark over the following three years. In 1957, the first U.S. conference was held in St. Simons, Georgia, with $30,000 from the Ford Foundation. The foundation supplied additional funding of $48,000 in 1959, and $60,000 in 1963.[6]

The Dutch economist Ernst van der Beugel took over as permanent secretary in 1960, upon the death of Retinger. Prince Bernhard continued to serve as the meeting's chairman until 1976, the year of his involvement in the Lockheed affair. There was no conference that year, but meetings resumed in 1977 under Alec Douglas-Home, the former British Prime Minister. He was followed in turn by Walter Scheel, ex-President of West Germany, Eric Roll, former head of SG Warburg and Lord Carrington, former Secretary-General of NATO.[8]

[edit] Attendees

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.[9]

Heads of state have attended meetings, including Juan Carlos I of Spain[10] and Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands[11]. While serving members of government do not usually attend, prominent politicians from North America and Europe are past attendees. In recent years, board members from many large publicly-traded corporations have attended, including IBM, Xerox, Royal Dutch Shell, Nokia and Daimler.[11]

[edit] Conspiracy Theories

Because of its secrecy and refusal to issue news releases, the group is frequently accused of secretive and nefarious world plots. This thinking has progressively found acceptance within both elements of the populist movement and fringe politics.[12] Critics include the John Birch Society[13], the Canadian writer Daniel Estulin, British writer David Icke, American writer Jim Tucker and radio host Alex Jones. Jones claims the Bilderberg Group intends to dissolve the sovereignty of the United States and other countries into a supra-national structure called the North American Union, similar to the European Union.[citation needed]

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."[14]

According to the investigative journalist Chip Berlet, the origins of Bilderberger conspiracy theories can be traced to activist Phyllis Schlafly. In his 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 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."[15]

[edit] Meetings

[edit] References

  1. ^ The masters of the universe, Asia Times, May 22, 2003, accessed on August 18, 2007
  2. ^ a b "Balkenende to Meet Bush in Washington". NIS News Bulletin. 2008. Retrieved on 2008-05-25. 
  3. ^ a b "Bilderberg Announces 2008 Conference". BusinessWire. 2008. Retrieved on 2008-06-07. 
  4. ^ a b "The most powerful elite will meet in Athens". GRReporter. 23 March 2009. "the club will organize its meeting in Athens between 14th and 16th of May" 
  5. ^ Hatch, Alden (1962). "The Hôtel de Bilderberg". H.R.H.Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands: An authorized biography. London: Harrap. ISBN B0000CLLN4. 
  6. ^ a b Valerie Aubourg (June 2003). Organizing Atlanticism: the Bilderberg Group and the Atlantic Institute 1952-63. 
  7. ^ 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" 
  8. ^ Rockefeller, David (2002). Memoirs. Random House. pp. 412. ISBN 0-679-40588-7. 
  9. ^ Caroline Moorehead (April 18, 1977). "An exclusive club, perhaps without power, but certainly with influence: The Bilderberg group". The Times. 
  10. ^ Mark Oliver (June 4, 2004). "The Bilderberg group". The Guardian. 
  11. ^ a b "Bilderberg Meeting of 1997 Assembles". PR Newswire. June 13, 1997. 
  12. ^ [ "Right Woos Left"
  13. ^ John Birch Society: “the Bilderberg”
  14. ^ Jonathan Duffy (2004-06-03). "Bilderberg: The ultimate conspiracy theory". BBC News. 
  15. ^ Chip Berlet (1994). "The New Right & The Secular Humanism Conspiracy Theory". 
  16. ^ High-security fences surround resort town in preparation for summit, Edmonton Journal, August 18, 2007, accessed on August 19, 2007
  17. ^ "Asia Times Online :: Asian News, Business and Economy.". Retrieved on 2007-08-22. 
  18. ^ Panetta, Alexander (2006). "Secretive Bilderbergers meet". Toronto Star Newspapers Limited. Retrieved on 2006-06-12. 
  19. ^ What was discussed at Bilderberg?, Turkish Daily News, June 5, 2007, accessed on August 18, 2007
  20. ^ Bilderberg 2007 - Towards a One World Empire?, Nexus Magazine, Volume 14, Number 5 (August - September 2007), accessed on August 18, 2007

[edit] Further reading

[edit] External links

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