The Bilderberg Group, Bilderberg conference, Bilderberg meetings or Bilderberg Club is an annual private conference of approximately 120–150 political leaders and experts from industry, finance, academia and the media.[1][2] About two-thirds of the participants come from Europe and the rest from North America; one third from politics and government and the rest from other fields.

Origin

The original conference was held at the Hotel de Bilderberg in Oosterbeek, Netherlands, from 29 to 31 May 1954. It was initiated by several people, including Polish politician-in-exile 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 the United States and Western Europe to foster cooperation on political, economic and defense issues.[4]

Retinger approached Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands who agreed to promote the idea, together with former 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.[5] 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.[4] Fifty delegates from 11 countries in Western Europe attended the first conference, along with 11 Americans.[6]

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.[7] Conferences were held in France, Germany, and Denmark over the following three years. In 1957 the first U.S. conference was held on St. Simons Island, Georgia, with $30,000 from the Ford Foundation. The foundation supplied further funding for the 1959 and 1963 conferences.[5]

Advertisements