by Armen Victorian
Nexus Magazine Volume 3, #1
Dec 95-Jan 96
membership selected from the power élite of Europe and
North America, many wonder if the Bilderbergers
are conspiring to establish a ’New
The conspiracy theory writers have
repeatedly linked one powerful
global elite, the Bilderberg
Group, with the ultimate take-over of the world. Members of
the Bilderberg together with their ’sister’
organizations - the
(known also as the "Child of Bilderberg") (1)
Council on Foreign Relations
(2) - are charged with
the post-war take-over of the democratic process. The measures
implemented by this group so far prove the control of the world
economy through indirect political means.
The constitution of several democratic monarchies of the Western
Europe bans members of their royal families from playing an
active role in the political process. However, the Bilderberg
meetings provide this exact forum and platform for them.
"This unprecedented period of
European cooperation is more than a product of simple
nation-state diplomacy. One of the key institutions that has
fostered unity and cooperation with the Atlantic Community
beyond the old concepts has been the Bilderberg Group."(3)
"I tell you frankly that I am deeply
alarmed today over the possibility that a right-wing reaction
may draw some sections of capital so far away from our
traditions as to imperil the entire structure of American life
as we know it."(4)
These comments by Pasymowski and
Gilbert (3) two decades ago may
seem out of phase with the current events in former Yugoslavia, but,
in terms of the continued stability of the "European State",
they have proven to be largely accurate. Warfare has been removed
from the intra-European systems as a means of controlling and
directing nationalistic goals and ideas. Even in the case of former
Yugoslavia, one observes that the current state of war
has resulted from Tito’s and the Soviet Union’s
demise. Consequently, the lid has been lifted on rivals and racial
memories which had been artificially kept in place for previous
decades. The several proto-states which make up the former
Yugoslavia were not part of the economic and social development
programs which evolved in Western Europe. As we would see, the way
in which the rest of Europe evolved and developed was very
different, and for very particular reasons.
Whether co-incidence or not, it is equally ironic that the
current Chairman of the Bilderberg, Lord Carrington, was
the first UN-appointed representative to bring peace to the war-torn
The single most important personality connected with the birth
and creation of the Bilderberg Group is
Joseph H. Retinger (also known as L’Eminence-His Grey
Eminence). Retinger had a colourful, lifelong career that
raised him to the top of the world power élites. At his funeral in
1960, Sir Edward Bedington-Behrens said:
"I remember Retinger in the
United States picking up the telephone and immediately making an
appointment with the President, and in Europe he had complete
entrée in every political circle as a kind of right acquired
through trust, devotion and loyalty he inspired."
Retinger, as a Catholic,
was viewed by many as an agent of the Vatican, acting in
liaison between the Pope and the
Father-General of the Jesuit order.
One of Retinger’s renowned achievements in European politics
was the founding of the European Movement, leading to the
establishment of the Council of Europe on 5th
May 1949. With its headquarters in Strasbourg, the Council
Executive Committee provided Retinger his first major
platform for his expansive ideology. From his earlier days at the
Sorbonne, Retinger believed in greater European unity, both
in military and economic terms. It was also at the same time when
his interest in the guidance of the Jesuit order manifested itself.
He spent a great deal of his time fulfilling these ambitions. He
suggested to Premier Georges Clemenceau a plan to unite
Eastern Europe-involving the merging of Austria, Hungary
and Poland as a tripartite monarchy under the guidance of
the Jesuit order. Clemenceau, doubtful of
the Vatican-inspired plan, rejected
Retinger’s proposal outright. This plan labelled Retinger,
thereafter, as a Vatican agent.
Retinger’s activities were not limited to uniting Europe.
Through his several trips to Mexico he played a key role in the
creation of a trade union movement in the 1920s. Due to his
unprecedented success, and by gaining the Mexican Government’s
trust, Retinger convinced them to nationalize the US oil
interest in Mexico. In the process, Retinger conducted the
secret negotiations with Washington for the Mexican
Retinger also had an active war career. He was the political
aide to General Sikorski, and served for the London-based
Polish Government-in-exile. In addition, at the age of 58, he
parachuted into German-occupied territory outside Warsaw for some
Due to his high-profile career, in the 1950s he was able to create
contacts with numerous high-ranking military officials and political
leaders. His main aim was to unite the world in peace. His peace
dividend was to be under the control of supernational, powerful
organizations. He believed that such organizations would be immune
from short-term ideological conflicts erupting between governments.
To Retinger, it was insignificant what dominated the economic
ideology of a country. He believed these differences could be
brought into line by powerful multinational organizations
dictating and applying powerful economic and military policies,
thereby creating a union and a bond between the
Retinger’s personal ’left-wing’ views from his heady
days convinced him that many leaders of newly born socialist and
communist nations would be prepared to talk to him. Additionally,
his Church background gave him an arena for dialogue with
people from the middle-ground connections in international
Nevertheless, Retinger knew that control of the world
affairs cannot be achieved without US participation. In pursuit
of this ideology, he began a campaign for the creation of an
Atlantic Community. This would make the development of
Europe an important political aim for the American politicians,
thereby preventing their retreat into political isolation.
Retinger, with this in mind, set out his carefully calculated
move by involving one of his close and powerful friends,
Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands. Prince Bernhard, at the time, was
an important figure in the oil industry and held a major position in
Royal Dutch Petroleum (Shell Oil), as well as
Société Générale de Belgique - a powerful global
In 1952 Retinger approached Bernhard with a proposal
for a secret conference to involve the NATO leaders
in an open and frank discussion on international affairs behind
closed doors. The meeting would allow each participant to speak his
mind freely because no media representative would be permitted
inside; nor would there be any news bulletin about the meeting
or the topics discussed. Furthermore, if any leaks occurred, the
journalists would be discouraged from writing about it.
Prince Bernhard fully supported Retinger’s proposal
for an international meeting. Consequently, they formed a committee
to organize a plan. In 1952, Bernhard approached the
Truman administration and briefed them about the meeting.
Despite a positive reception, it was not until the Eisenhower
administration when the first American counterpart group was formed.
The two key role-players in the US group were General Walter
Bedell Smith (Director of the CIA) and C. D.
Jackson. Both (European-American) groups working interactively
set out to fulfill Retinger’s initial plan. From the outset,
the American group was heavily influenced by the
Rockefeller family, the owners
of Standard Oil - competitors of Bernhard’s
Royal Dutch Petroleum. From then on, the Bilderberg
business reflected the concerns of the oil industry in its meetings.
According to Bilderberg’s draft document of 1989:
"Bilderberg takes its name
from the Bilderberg Hotel in Oosterbeek, Holland, where
the first meeting took place in May 1954. That pioneering
meeting grew out of the concern expressed by many leading
citizens on both sides of the Atlantic that Western Europe and
North America were not working together as closely as they
should on matters of critical importance. It was felt that
regular, off-the-record discussions would help create a better
understanding of the complex forces and major trends affecting
Western nations in the difficult post-war period."(5)
Retinger’s main aim in creating
Bilderberg had other more important, inherent aspects
than an informal gathering of a group of the world’s élite. It has
been suggested that Bilderberg meetings ultimately would have
implemented group dynamics techniques in the shape of a low-key
international thinking group with the purpose of sensitizing the
less enlightened of its membership towards the new transitional
diplomacy of the Cold War.
The first meeting witnessed the gathering of ideologies, poles
apart. The issue of McCarthyism was reaching its peak in the
United States. European participants, exasperated with the
McCarthy propaganda, saw in their American counterparts a clear
political shift towards an ultra-right-wing fascist state. Memories
of World War II still fresh in their minds, the Europeans found the
concept rather repulsive.
C. D. Jackson (a member of the CFR), in an
attempt to regain the international delegates’ confidence, stated:
"Whether McCarthy dies by an
assassin’s bullet or is eliminated in the normal American way of
getting rid of boils on body politics, I prophesy that by the
time we hold our next meeting he will be gone from the American
Nevertheless, McCarthyism proved
to be a source of embarrassment for the US delegate.
The concept of Bilderberg was not new. Although
similar groups were already in existence at the time, none attracted
and provoked global myths the way Bilderberg has.
Groups such as Bohemian Grove, established in 1872 by
San Franciscans, played an equally significant role in
shaping post-war politics in the US.
"It was at the Grove,
it is said, that the Manhattan Project was set up
and that Eisenhower was selected as the
Republicans’ candidate for 1952."(7)
The Ditchley Park Foundation
was established in 1953 in Britain with the same aim.(8)
Two years earlier, in 1952, Britain’s Field Marshal Bernard
Montgomery had suggested the idea of a NATO
command-post exercise (a paper drill; no movement of forces) to
train army divisional commanders. General Eisenhower, who was
then NATO’s European Commander, accepted it. As a result, the
Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers in Europe Exercise-SHAPEX
was created. Ever since, an annual meeting has been held in
SHAPE headquarters near Mons, Belgium,
and the subject has been broadened to incorporate a wide array of
The historical review of these groups reflects a sudden flourishing
trend, and the realization by the world’s leaders of the need for
creation of, at times, such overt concepts. The idea of establishing
such élite groups did not die with the birth of Bilderberg.
In 1957, the first of the Pugwash Conferences on Science
and World Affairs took place. Pandit Nehru offered to
host the first meeting. The founder members were personalities such
as Bertrand Russell and Albert Einstein. Scientists from the United
States and Soviet Union were regular participants in this East-West
gathering of élites. Britain is known for its active participation
and role in this group.
"The best feature of Pugwash
is that it brings together people from East, West and
Pugwash proved particularly
valuable at the time when the relation between East and West was at
a stalemate. Many significant topics were discussed in this forum.
Ways of monitoring arms control agreements, nuclear disarmament, and
reduction of East-West tensions were always on the top of the
agenda. In the 1970s Pugwash embraced a range of issues
including biological, chemical and conventional arms control,
environment and development problems as well as conflicts around the
One of the latest groups is the Williamsburg, better known as
the Asian Window. Its first meeting was financed by the late
John D. Rockefeller in 1971, and continues to date. It brings
together the Asian leaders and the Americans. Williamsburg
has been particularly effective for discussing Vietnam, or the
Indonesian corruption, or supposedly non-existent Japanese exchange
controls. Different experiences of trade with China and Russia, or
how Singapore has a lower infant mortality than America, have been
some of the topics in the Williamsburg forum.
Nonetheless, none of these groups-including the Council on
Foreign Relations and the Trilaterals-commands
the influence the Bilderberg has obtained in shaping
and dictating global policies.
"The first [Bilderberg]
meeting was convened under the chairmanship of H. R. H.
Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands, who served as chairman
for twenty-two years. He was succeeded by Lord Home of the
Hirsel, former Prime Minister for the United Kingdom, who
chaired the meetings for four years. At the 1980 meeting,
Lord Home turned over the chairmanship to Walter Scheel,
former President of the Federal Republic of Germany. In 1985,
Mr Scheel resigned, and was succeeded by Lord Roll of
Ipsden, President of S. G. Warburg Group plc. At 1989
meeting, Lord Roll turned over the chairmanship to
Lord Carrington,"(10) who still
chairs the meetings.
CHARACTER OF BILDERBERG MEETINGS
"What is unique about
Bilderberg as a forum is:
(1) the broad
cross-section of leading citizens, in and out of government,
that are assembled for nearly three days of informal
discussion about topics of current concern especially in the
fields of foreign affairs and the international economy
(2) the strong feeling
among participants that, in view of the differing attitudes
and experiences of the Western nations, there is a clear
need to develop an understanding in which these concerns can
(3) the privacy of these
meetings, which has no purpose other than to allow leading
citizens to speak their minds openly and freely
"In short, Bilderberg
is a recognized, flexible and informal international leadership
forum in which different viewpoints can be expressed and mutual
In further recognition of this aspect,
Paddy Ashdown, the Leader of the Liberal Party and a
participant in the 1989 Bilderberg meeting, wrote to
"In view of the recent events right
across Europe, this has turned out to have been an exceptionally
useful opportunity to meet and discuss with many of the most
expert people in the world on international relations. I found
it a very stimulating and informative gathering."(12)
But others, such as Prince Charles,
Lord Callaghan and Sir Edward Heath, were rather shy
in their responses.(13)
There are usually 115 participants in each annual meeting.
Eighty are from Western Europe and the remainder from
North America. From this mixture, one-third are from
government and politics, and the remaining two-thirds from industry,
finance, education and communications. All the participants claim to
attend the meeting in their private capacity and not as
officials-though this claim, in the wake of the outcome of
subsequent meetings, has proven to be highly questionable.
Participants are invited to the Bilderberg meeting by the
Chairman, following his consultations and recommendations by the
Steering Committee membership, the Advisory
Group and the Honorary Secretaries-General.
This approach ensures a full, informed and balanced discussion of
the agenda items. The individuals are chosen based on their
knowledge, standing and experience. The previous participants
maintain that, at the meetings, no resolutions are proposed, no
votes are taken and no policy statements are made.
The costs of the annual meetings are usually the responsibility of
the Steering Committee members of the host country. But, the
expenses of maintaining the Bilderberg meetings are
covered entirely by private subscriptions. Although the meeting
reports are published, nevertheless they are strictly for the
participating members only. No reports are made available to the
Members’ Steering Committee:
Chairman: Peter, Lord
Carrington-Chairman of the Board, Christie’s International plc;
Former Secretary-General NATO.
Secretary-General for Europe and
Canada: Victor Halberstadt-Professor of Public Economics, Leiden
University, the Netherlands.
Secretary General for USA: Theodore
L. Elliot, Jr-Dean Emeritus, The Fletcher School of Law &
Diplomacy; Former US Ambassador.
Treasurer: Pieter Korteweg-President
and Chief Executive Officer, Robeco Group.
Austria: Peter Jankowitsch-Member of
Parliament, Former Foreign Minister.
Belgium: Etienne Davignon-Chairman,
Société Générale de Belgique; Former Vice Chairman of the
Commission of the European Communities.
Finland: Jaakko Iloniemi-Managing
Director, Centre for Finnish Business and Policy Studies; Former
Ambassador to the USA.
France: Marc Lardreit de Lacharrère-Chairman,
Fimalac. Thierry de Montbrial-Director, French Institute of
International Relations; Professor of Economics, Ecole
Germany: Christoph Bertram-
Diplomatic Correspondent, Die Zeit.
Hilmar Kopper-Spokesman of the Board
of Managing Directors, Deutsche Bank AG.
Greece: Costa Carras-Director of
Ireland: Peter D.
Sutherland-Chairman, Allied Irish Bank plc; Former Member,
Commission of the European Communities.
Italy: Mario Monti-Rector and
Professor of Economics, Bocconi University, Milan.
Renato Ruggiero-Member of the Board,
Fiat SpA; Former Minister of Foreign Trade.
Norway: Westye Hoegh, Ship Owner,
Leif Hoegh & Co AS.
Portugal: Francisco Pinto Balsemao-Professor
of Mass Communication, New University of Lisbon; Chairman,
Sojornal sarl; Former Prime Minister.
Spain: Jaime Carvajal Urquijo-Chairman
and General Manager, Iberfomento.
Sweden: Percy Barnevik-President and
CEO, ABB Asea Brown Boveri Ltd.
Switzerland: David de Pury-Chairman,
BBC Brown Boveri Ltd; Co-Chairman, ABB Asea Brown Boveri Group.
Turkey: Selahattin Beyazit-Director
United Kingdom: Andrew
Knight-Executive Chairman, News International plc.
United States of America: Kenneth W.
Dam-Max Pam Professor of American and Foreign Law, University of
Chicago Law School; Former Deputy Secretary of State.
Vernon E. Jordan, Jr-Partner, Akin,
Gump, Hauer & Field, Attorneys-at-Law; Former President,
National Urban League.
Henry A. Kissinger-Former Secretary
of State; Chairman, Kissinger Associates, Inc.
Charles McC. Mathias-Partner, Jones,
Day, Reavis & Pogue; Former US Senator (Republican, Maryland).
Rozanne C. Whitehead-Former Deputy
Secretary of State.
Lynn R. Williams-International
President, United Steel- Workers of America.
Cassimir A. Yost-Executive Director,
The Asia Foundation’s Center for Asian-Pacific Affairs.
United States of
America/International: James D. Wolfensohn-President, World
Bank; President, James D. Wolfensohn, Inc.
Members of Advisory Group:
Canada: Anthony G. S.
Griffin-Director of companies.
Germany: Otto Wolff von Amerongen-Chairman
and Chief Executive Officer, Otto Wolff Industrieberatung und
International: Max Kohnstamm-Former
Secretary-General, Action Committee for Europe; Former
President, European University Institute.
Italy: Giovanni Agnelli-Chairman,
Netherlands: Ernst H. van der Beugel-Emeritus
Professor of International Relations, Leiden University; Former
Honorary Secretary-General of Bilderberg Meetings for Europe and
United Kingdom: Lord Roll of Ipsden-President,
S. G. Warburg Group plc.
United States of America: George W.
Ball-Former Under-Secretary of State.
William P. Bundy-Former Editor,
David Rockefeller-Chairman, Chase
Manhattan Bank International Advisory Committee.
29-31 May 1954: Oosterbeek,
18-20 March 1955: Barbizon,
23-25 September 1955:
Garmisch-Partenkirchen, W. Germany.
11-13 May 1956: Fredensborg,
15-17 February 1957: St
Simons Island, Georgia, USA.
4-6 October 1957: Fiuggi,
13-15 September 1958:
18-20 September 1959:
28-29 May 1960: Bürgenstock,
21-23 April 1961: St Castin,
18-20 May 1962: Saltsjöbaden,
29-31 May 1963: Cannes,
20-22 March 1964:
Williamsburg, Virginia, USA.
2-4 April 1965: Villa d’Este,
25-27 March 1966: Wiesbaden,
31 March 2 April 1967:
26-28 April 1968: Mont
9-11 May 1969: Marienlyst,
17-19 April 1970: Bad Ragaz,
23-25 April 1971: Woodstock,
21-23 April 1972: Knokke,
11-13 May 1973: Saltsjöbaden,
19-21 April 1974: Megìve,
25-27 April 1975: Çesme,
1976: No conference was
22-24 April 1977: Torquay,
21-23 April 1978: Princeton,
New Jersey, USA.
27-29 April 1979: Baden,
18-20 April 1980: Aachen, W.
15-17 May 1981: Bürgenstock,
14-16 May 1982: Sandefjord,
13-15 May 1983: Montebello,
11-13 May 1984: Saltsjöbaden,
10-12 May 1985: Rye Brook,
New York USA.
25-27 April 1986:
24-26 April 1987: Villa
3-5 June 1988: Telfs-Buchen,
12-14 May 1989: La Toja,
11-13 May 1990: Glen Cove,
New York, USA.
6-9 June 1991: Baden-Baden,
21-24 May 1992: Evian-les-Bains,
Though the entire topics of the
Bilderberg meetings since its establishment are known to me,
listing these topics would occupy several pages, which is not within
the scope of this writing. However, I should perhaps include
herewith the topics of the first meeting (1954) and the 1992 meeting
which, in themselves, provide an insight into the evolution of this
group, the Bilderberg.
29-31 May 1954: Oosterbeek, Netherlands
A. The attitude towards
communism and the Soviet Union.
B. The attitude towards dependent areas and people overseas.
C. The attitude towards economic policies and problems.
D. The attitude towards European integration and the
European Defense Community.
21-24 May 1992: Evian-les-Bains,
A. Prospects for the former
B. What should be done for Eastern Europe?
C. Whither the United States?
D. The world economy.
E. Whither Europe?
F. Soviet Union: the view from Moscow.
G. The migration issue.
H. The evolving west/west relationship.
1. The issue concerning the history
and the activities of the Trilateral Commission is a separate
one to be dealt with in another paper.
2. The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) requires separate
attention which I would discuss in another paper. However, I
should add that the CFR does not accept non-US members.
3. Pasymowski, Eugene and Carl Gilbert, Bilderberg: The Cold War
4. Charles E. Wilson, addressing the National Association of
Manufacturers in 1946.
5. Extract from a Bilderberg document. This document was given
to the author, prior to its official publication, by one of the
members of the Bilderberg Group. Later on, an official format
was also provided to the author by another member, which proved
the authenticity of the record in point.
6. Hatch, Alden, H. R. H. Bernhard, Prince of the Netherlands,
7. "Our Good Conference Guide", The Economist, December 1987.
8. The issue concerning the Ditchley Foundation requires a
separate paper. For many years I have been studying this
Foundation and have had the opportunity of discussing its
achievements, goals and missions with several of its members and
9. Op. cit., 7.
10. Bilderberg Meetings, 1989, p. 1 (Bilderberg record).
11. Op. cit. 5, p. 1.
12. Letter from Paddy Ashdown, Leader of the Liberal Party,
dated 3 January 1990, to the author.
13. Former Prime Minister Lord Callaghan’s letter of 19 October
1989, to the author. Former Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath’s
letter of 1 November 1989, to the author. Letter of 30 October
1989 from St James’s Palace, to the author. Prince Charles
participated in the 1986 Bilderberg annual meeting held in