23-25 September 1955
The third Bilderberg Conference was held at Garmisch-Partenkirchen in Germany from 23 to 25 September, 1955, under the chairmanship of H.R.H. The Prince of the Netherlands.
It will be recalled that previous conferences of the same kind were held at Bilderberg in Holland in May, 1954, and at Barbizon in France in March, 1955. The purpose of this series of conferences is to reach the highest possible denominator of mutual understanding between the countries of Western Europe and North America and so to work for the removal of causes of friction,
to study those fields where action may be necessary to prevent friction from arising in the future and to examine the general areas in which agreement may be sought. To this end it was thought desirable to bring together a group of men of ex-perience, outstanding qualities and influence from different countries of the Western world in an atmosphere of mutual confidence and personal friendship which would admit of free and frank discussion. It is not the purpose of the Bilderberg series of conferences to
construct policy. Participants include statesmen and diplomatists; trades unionists, intellectuals, business and professional men.
They speak as individuals and not as representatives of their respective countries or the political parties, associations, or organizations to which they may belong. All, however, share a high purpose and a clear recognition of the urgency of the situation.
It was a conclusion of the first Bilderberg Conference that for historical reasons, together with many factors which were the ingredients of the present political, economic, and social situation, there would always be differences of opinion between the countries of Western Europe and those of North America, and in fact between any two countries in the world. Divergencies of view are not in themselves deplorable, and indeed, they are the quintessence of democratic life. Nevertheless, it is a matter of the utmost urgency that the will and the means should exist for finding a common basis on which to build our future.
At the second conference, held in Barbizon this year, subjects were chosen for the agenda which were bound to be controversial to a certain extent, but the discussion of which could clarify the situation, and in some cases could be followed up in the future.
The problem of the uncommitted peoples was discussed and the general question of communist infiltration and propaganda, together with the approach of the Western European and North American countries to this question. It was felt that there must grow up not only a better understanding between the countries of the Western alliance but a closer contact and better understanding with the Asian and African countries, to many of which belong the so-called uncommitted peoples of the world.
There was a strong current of opinion also that there might be great value in arranging a subsequent meeting between leaders of the mind and spirit of the East and West in an atmosphere similar to that of the Bilderberg series of conferences.
It was also generally agreed that too little was being done to counteract the unceasing and insidious encroachment of communist propaganda. The participants agreed that whenever they had the opportunity they would try to further those ideas and suggestions which had found general agreement at the two previous meetings, by making whatever use might be possible of the press and other contacts with public opinion. It is believed also that in the wide and important field presented by the European-
American Associations much could be done towards creating the friendly atmosphere needed for the growth of the highest degree of co-operation. It will be seen from the list of participants that the Garmisch Conference was attended by men from thirteen different countries. The subjects discussed were:
I. Review of events since the Barbizon Conference.
II. Article 2 of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
III. The political and strategic aspects of atomic energy.
IV. The reunification of Germany.
V. European unity.
VI. The industrial aspects of atomic energy. VII. Economic problems:
(a) East-West trade
(b) The political aspects of convertibility
(c) Expansion of international trade.
In order to allow participants to speak with perfect frankness and in the knowledge that their words would not be read outside
the conference circle, the Chairman asked for the utmost discretion. The press, as at the previous conferences, was not admitted,
and this document should be treated as strictly confidential and for the personal use of the recipient only.
A press statement, released at Garmisch-Partenkirchen on 26 September, 1955, is reproduced in the Appendix to this report.
SUMMARY OF CONSENSUS OF OPINION AT THE CONFERENCE
A. The changes in internal characteristics and external behaviour of the Soviet regime.
The group noted that during the last year or two there have been significant changes both in the internal characteristics and the
external behaviour of the Soviet regime. These changes are such as to deserve the considered attention of the Western peoples, and give some grounds for hope that the problem of Soviet Russian power and ideology will not be necessarily over the long term what we have known it to be in the past. Nevertheless, they have not yet led to any alterations in the Soviet position on major
issues that could warrant in the slightest degree any modifications in the military posture of the Western countries as embodied in the policies and arrangements of NATO, or in their efforts to strengthen the free world politically and economically. Nor can there
be any relaxation of vigilance in the face of other devices directed against the unity and the inner strength of the free world.
On the contrary, it is obvious that if the Western powers should permit themselves to be led into a premature relaxation of their defence effort, or into a slackened pursuit of their political and economic goals, this might very well give rise to renewed false
hopes and miscalculations on the Soviet side which could undo even those slender elements of hope and encouragement implicit in the present situation.
On the other hand, there is also the opposite danger of needlessly rebuffing Soviet moves which may offer an opportunity for the establishment of a better atmosphere in internal relations and of inflicting on the peoples of the free world a discouragement
greater than circumstances would warrant. It must be made clear to the Russians that every positive move on their part towards an improvement of relations with the' free world will meet with an appropriate response.
In the coming period, Western policy will have to bear in mind constantly these two preoccupations. An undue emphasis on either of them can be distinctly dangerous. A carefully selected blend of unshakeable firmness and willingness to put forward and
seriously to examine suggestions affords prospects that warrant reasonable optimism as to the possibility of preserving peace without jeopardy to the security of the free nations.
B. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization
During a broad discussion, the different aspects of the role of NATO were examined:
1 The need for maintaining and even increasing the effectiveness of the Atlantic Pact on all levels was recognized, for on
the vigour of the Atlantic Pact depend largely the chances of negotiation and peace.
2 The military effort must be continued and maintained to the point necessary to prevent all temptation to resort to
3 Emphasis was laid upon the importance of the Atlantic Community strengthening itself by making use of all facilities,
including those offered by the Pact, for economic, social, and psychological co-operation.
C. The Political and Strategic Aspects of Atomic Energy The group discussed the impact of atomic energy on the political and
defence • f the free countries of the West. No agreement was reached as to any method by which atomic warfare could be limited
without surrendering the freedom of action of the Western countries to defend themselves but it was generally felt that their
defensive arrangements are already based on the use of the minimum atomic or nuclear force necessary.
If the devastating effect of nuclear war acted as a deterrent to aggressive action and made war less likely it followed that the
struggle on the ideological front would become more intense. The West must prepare itself for this development by increasing in every way the vitality of its society.
D The Reunification of Germany There was general agreement within the group as to the urgency of this problem as expressed by many speakers. There could be no real security in Europe until the reunification of Germany had been achieved on a basis of real freedom.
In discussing the Soviet's interest in German reunification there was a general feeling that the Soviet was not so much interested in the reunification of Germany as in the terms which she could get for it. It appeared that her object was still to use reunification
as a central device to detach Western Germany from the Western security organization and eventually to absorb her into the Soviet satellite system. Some participants expressed the view that the Soviet had a fear of what she called capitalist encirclement and eventual attack by the Western powers. Whether this fear was real or false, the West should not abandon the hope of a possible successful approach by means of a security arrangement which would not endanger NATO or impair German freedom.
There was a general consensus of opinion that in these circumstances great caution and great patience were needed in any approach to the solution of this important problem.
E. European Unity
The discussion on this subject revealed general support for the idea of European integration and unification among the participants from the six countries of the European Coal and Steel Community, and a recognition of the urgency of the problem.
While members of the group held different views as to the method by which a common market could be set up, there was a general recognition of the dangers inherent in the present divided markets of Europe and the pressing need to bring the German people, together with the other peoples of Europe, into a common market. That the six countries of the Coal and Steel Community
had definitely decided to establish a common market and that experts were now working this out was felt to be a most encouraging step forward and it was hoped that other countries would subsequently join it. The need was generally accepted to press forward with functional integration in the economic domain particularly with regard to the industrial utilization of atomic energy. It was generally recognized that it is our common responsibility to arrive in the shortest possible time
at the highest degree of integration, beginning with a common European market. It was also generally
agreed that the tariff walls surrounding this common market should certainly not be higher and should
possibly be lower than the average of the existing tariffs now applied by the individual countries
F. The Industrial Aspects of Atomic Energy During this discussion a consensus of opinion manifested itself in certain points.
1 The future of the human race is bound up with the development of nuclear energy.
2 The cost of research, development, installation, and the training of large numbers of specialists is very high. Thus the
developmental expense which must be put into what might be called the first and second generations of reactors meant that
economic justification would come after this. Nevertheless in the next few years this problem can be expected to be solved.
3 As a result of the high cost it is of vital importance that Europe should combine her resources, since the cost per capita
in any single country would be far greater than that in the United States with its larger population and resources.
4 The opportunity to initiate joint action in Europe should be seized before atomic development has been crystallized
along national lines and at a time when vested interests have not yet established the obstacles which may make co-operative action
more difficult, if not impossible, in a few years' time.
5 The opportunity to develop this new source of energy is an opportunity to increase productive output and is directly
connected with the establishment of a common European market. Around it can be built, if the opportunity is not lost, a new
aspect and a new hope for the unification of Europe.
6 The quickest possible steps should be taken towards the integration of Europe in respect to the industrial use of atomic
energy, and joint planning, training and research should be started as soon as possible. The possibility of extending this particular
form of integration to other than European countries was also emphasized.
I. REVIEW OF EVENTS
SINCE THE BARBIZON CONFERENCE
A European rapporteur surveyed the international events of the past six months. There had been a political evolution which might be called sensational; the conclusion of the Austrian Treaty, the visit of Bulganin and Khrushchev to Yugoslavia, the Summit Conference in Geneva, and lastly, the Atomic Conference in Geneva. The question was whether this was illusion or reality.
There seemed to be no serious reason to believe that the communist leaders had become less communist and therefore the changes in Soviet foreign policy were only tactical changes. Perhaps we were entering into a new "Litvinov" period. There seemed to be a parallel in the situation today according to what the Soviet leaders had themselves told us. Their statements
indicated that there was a serious crisis in Soviet agriculture and in the productivity of Soviet industry, and there was an undoubted political crisis as a result of the adjustments made after Stalin's death. There was a tendency in the West to say "In spite of threats and Soviet actions we have set up the Western European Union and this has brought the Russians to the negotiating
table." Was this really true? Or was it that Russia, having been unable to prevent the ratification of the Western European Union, was trying to prevent its implementation and aiming at neutralizing NATO? Russia could be likened to malaria. It was wrong to
believe oneself dead when the fever was high and even more wrong to believe oneself cured when the attack was over. It was necessary to use the period when the fever subsided to take a cure and build up resistance against the next attack and this should indicate the action which we should take to meet the new turn in Soviet policy.
The cold war, as we had known it, had been a trench war, whereas the new conflict, called co-existence, was a war of movement. The change over from a trench war to a war of movement had often resulted in serious military disasters and we should be very careful lest this transition also caused disasters in the political field. There were serious dangers in the new diplomacy by television rather than by negotiation and it was of great importance that we should not lower our guard. While we all sincerely hoped that the Russians really wanted peace, we must never forget that they may only wish to disrupt the military and
political organization of the Western world and that they will try to exploit all the difficulties which may arise between Europe and America.
It was significant that Khruschev himself, speaking recently in Moscow, had said that the Russians always spoke the truth to their friends as well as to their adversaries. They were in favour of the relaxation of tension but if anyone thought that, to achieve
it, they were going to forget about Marx, Lenin and Engels, he would be wrong. This was as likely to happen as it was for Easter
to fall on a Tuesday. They were for co-existence because both capitalism and socialism exist in the world, but they would always
stand for the construction of socialism. They did not believe that war was necessary for that, since peaceful emulation would
An American participant next described the current trend of United States affairs and policies affecting Europe. Since Barbizon
the United States had gone through a period of relative tranquillity in its public opinion which had been remarkably quiet on
foreign policy matters and a mood of moderation prevailed. The Austrian settlement and the Geneva talks on atomic energy had
been well received and the misgivings with which the Summit Conference had first been viewed had given way in the end to
satisfaction that some good might have been achieved. The speaker agreed, however, that great caution was necessary. The United
States was also entering its quadrennial fever of presidential elections, a fact which could not but complicate to some extent
United States foreign policy arrangements. With regard to diplomacy by television which had been mentioned by the first speaker,
he felt that we should note that United States foreign policy would continue to be subject to a vigorous and interested public
discussion, since a government in his country could not expect to follow an important policy over a considerable period of time
without full discussion, full understanding and support by a large proportion of the population.
The speaker mentioned two long-range issues of great importance. The first was the meaning of the new Soviet diplomacy and its
effect upon the solidarity of the free world. Radically different assumptions about Soviet policy might lead us into dangerously
divergent paths. We must seek the proper balance between vigilance and strength on the one hand, and willingness to negotiate
and settle specific issues as steps towards reducing tension on the other. Would our essential Western unity melt under the new
Soviet sun and our inevitable differences loom larger? What would our attitude now be towards the fate of our friends in the
Soviet satellites ? Would we be wise and sophisticated in the more difficult competition in non-military fields and determined in
sustaining the economic and other burdens of this competition? We need a common view, common strategy and common
determination since communism would become more seductive if it were to modify its two most repelling aspects of ruthless
totalitarianism and armed aggression, and would present us with an even more serious problem than in the past.
The second issue, or set of issues, which might divide and weaken us arose in the Pacific. The United States was orientated
towards two oceans and concerned about Pacific security only slightly less than Atlantic security. This was why Americans were
exercised about the problem of Japan earning a living in the world in which she finds herself and were disappointed at the
reservations which accompanied the admission of Japan to the GATT agreements. And then there was the problem of China. Here
we were confronted by a problem which was far more than a technical question of credentials and recognition, and the China
question could seriously affect our total relationship unless we could find a basis of agreement among ourselves.
A Canadian speaker could not find very much in Canadian opinion which differed from that described by his American colleague.
Technically and diplomatically the United States and Canada were in the same position but opinion in the latter country had been
increasingly worried about the realism and wisdom of non-recognition of China and that was an anxiety shared by all political
parties. Another United States speaker felt that it was important to recognize that the major differences that had existed between
Russia and the Western countries since the recent war did not arise basically from the ideological disparity between the two
systems, although that was important, or even from the personality and methods of Stalin himself, but rather from the fact that the
destruction temporarily of the power of Germany and Japan left great political and military voids in the world and there was no
agreement in 1945 between the major powers on the Western side, on the one hand, and Russia on the other, as to how these voids
should be filled. Internal conditions in Russia could change. There could be a strong subjective reaction, as the speaker thought
there had been, among Soviet officialdom against the many manifestations of Stalinism, and there could be a changed outward
direction of approach to the Western world. All this did not alter the nature of Soviet political interests vis-a-vis Europe as they
had emerged from World War II. There were more encouraging long-term factors. A parallel had been drawn between the present
period and the Litvinov period of the late 'twenties and early 'thirties and in many respects it had been well drawn. But there was
something that was significantly different. Firstly in the late 'twenties and early 'thirties Russia was only entering upon the period
of extreme nightmarish terrorism that endured for twenty years, from 1933 to 1953. Today she is emerging from that period, and
from the speaker's own observations there had been a feeling of acute horror and revulsion in almost all ranks of the Soviet system
of officialdom right up to the very top. Even the Soviet Olympus today seemed to be united primarily by the slogan "No return to
the extremities and horrors of Stalinism". This, of course, implies a transition to something else and what that something else is
we do not yet know. Perhaps the Russians themselves do not know and for that reason they might be facing something in the
nature of a new constitutional crisis.
Secondly, there was the state of mind of what might be called the Soviet cultural and scientific elements, a body of people far
more numerous and important today than they were in the late 'twenties. At that time there was a great stir of real ideological
enthusiasm among these people while today their minds were dominated by something which might be described as political
apathy and a burning desire for world contacts, appreciation, and the opening of a window to the Western world. These forces
were the more powerful for the reason that they began to grow up under Stalin but were repressed under him and had now come
out with redoubled force. That might affect both the internal nature of the Soviet system and the entire tenor of its relations with
the outside world. It might be said that nothing had changed but the manners of Soviet diplomacy but we should not underrate the
importance of manners on the final results achieved in life.
they might be faced in the near future. NATO had imposed upon itself the rule that it would not use forces greater than were
necessary to accomplish its tasks.
A European participant commented on the fact that the Western world had largely been occupied during the last few years with
defensive measures. While this might be true as far as military questions were concerned, it was not true that the initiative had been surrendered, since NATO itself and the development of its institutional strength amounted to seizing the initiative. But now the Russians, by launching their campaign of charm, had again seized the initiative. They had been forced to launch their new
campaign as a result of NATO and of Western co-operation and we were moving from the cold war to the hot peace.
might provide a method by which we could regain the initiative, and this was a matter which might well be discussed here.
There was a body of opinion which held that NATO could not undertake the kind of development on the spiritual side that was
required in Europe, and that the member countries themselves must do this. NATO had in any case a most inadequate budget for
this purpose. One of the functions of the Bilderberg Group, therefore, might be to help to create a realization, through members in
their own countries, that NATO has a mission which is a mission of peace as well as of defence. Much good had been done in this
direction by the references to NATO by Queen Juliana of the Netherlands when she opened her Parliament recently. It had to be
remembered that the Russians were spending a billion dollars at least on propaganda, and in fact spent more money in jamming
our propaganda programmes than the free world spends on its own propaganda. It was felt that most effective propaganda could
be developed from the human experience of NATO which could be used to familiarize people with the kind of co-operation that
NATO represented. There was, for instance, a monthly magazine published by NATO, but more than this was required.
A British participant felt that the recent NATO meeting of parliamentarians of its member countries had not been as strikingly
successful as it should have been and that NATO had not identified itself sufficiently with the conference. He felt that more than
this was required. Possibly some parliamentary group might be conceived in connection with the NATO organization which could
meet each year and serve as a means of education and propaganda for the NATO effort.
Another speaker felt that the question was not so much one of propaganda but one of what NATO itself could do to inspire
people and prepare them psychologically for the use of nuclear weapons should this become necessary for their defence. While
the United States had done so much to pool its military resources through the NATO mechanism little had been done to pool its
political and economic resources in the same manner and the question was asked how far would the United States be willing to go
in this direction. The more that atomic weapons were developed the more it might be possible that they would not be used and this
gave even greater emphasis to the importance of conventional weapons and of the spirit of the Western people. It would be of
great use if NATO officials could bring pressure on their governments to prepare young people in their respective countries for
the task which they would have to face as members of the armed forces of NATO.
Other participants were more concerned with the hard core of military reality, which was the real responsibility of NATO, than
with the economic and political aspects provided by Article 2. Some nations were displaying tendencies to reduce the military
resources which they were making available through NATO, and it was essential that these tendencies should be checked. It might
be regarded as a military duty for the free nations to engage in mutual discussions before taking unilateral action.
It was also pointed out, as an objection to the further implementation of Article 2, that there was not an identity of membership
between NATO and other European organizations in the economic field. It was further contended that for NATO to attempt to
consider controversial economic matters might endanger that complete agreement among its members which existed in the
III. THE POLITICAL AND STRATEGIC ASPECTS OF ATOMIC ENERGY
The Conference discussed the issues which arose from papers on this subject prepared by United States and European
The trends in recent years towards the increase in the power of atomic weapons, their speed and range of delivery, were
emphasized by most speakers, together with the fact that the West had now lost its atomic monopoly. Doubts were expressed,
however, as to whether there could be such a thing as an atomic stalemate since, as both sides developed the means of delivering
an atomic attack, the emphasis shifted to geographical considerations of target location and dispersal, base location and dispersal,
and factors such as the maintenance and turn-round of aircraft and other weapons. Moreover, if the countries of the West
maintained their unity of alliance they had a definite advantage over the communist world and might be able to look forward to a
long-term maintenance of superiority in the atomic field. It should be possible, therefore, to build up a defensive system giving
some degree of protection against the possibilities of a decisive surprise attack, and making atomic aggression extremely
expensive to the aggressor. In any case, it would be necessary to build up such a defence and to preserve it.
Another speaker recalled the previous discussion in which it had been pointed out that we were now entering into a period of
hot peace and that as the fronts were moving closer the ideological war would become more tense in all non-military, and
particularly in the social and economic, fields. He feared that we were not sufficiently prepared for this new trend of events. It was
equally dangerous to replace the argument of military strength by the argument that communism, as shown by recent changes in
Soviet policy, would change. The important point would now be to get vitality into our society. A strong argument was put
forward by a British participant in favour of a policy of graduated deterrence, by which the West would make a declaration that in
the event of its being attacked, it would not use the hydrogen bomb at all unless it were first used by the enemy, nor would it
attack centres of civilian population outside a specific battle area unless, again, the enemy did so first. It was claimed that such a
policy would make a total thermo-nuclear war very much less likely, since it was in the interests of both sides to avoid the
destruction of their cities; this would become particularly relevant as the Soviet became able to strike the cities of the United
States. Massive retaliation therefore had become far too drastic to be justified, and was in fact no longer necessary. On the other
hand, the clear warning that atomic weapons would be used to repel any aggression would decrease the possibilities of war
breaking out, and enhance the security of the "grey" areas in which the Soviet might think that the United States or her allies
would not be prepared to commit themselves, at the same time providing the necessary counter-balance to communist superiority
in manpower. Since the West would be dependent on the use of its large ports in the case of Soviet aggression....
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