Some of the most powerful people from the worlds of politics and commerce are descending on the Saxon capital for a four-day meet, starting on Thursday.
Prominent North Americans and Europeans have been meeting through the Bilderberg Group in strict privacy since 1954 to talk shop without the intrusive eye of the public – and it's this mysterious nature that has given rise to various conspiracy theories about their doings.
The 130 select guests will be discussing topical issues of the day behind the closed doors of the Taschenberg Palace, a luxury hotel in Dresden's stunning baroque old town.
Some of the biggest names in German politics will be in attendance, including Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble, Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen and Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière, all members of Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU).
And as with every meeting of the Bilderberg group in its more than 60 years of existence, not a word that is said in the luxury hotel will make it to the public’s attention.
Groups from the far left and far right of German society are organizing protests against the meet, with “Anti-Fascist Action” marching for the same cause as the Islamophobic Pegida organization, and the populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) party.
“The Bilderberg group are accused of planning world domination. And that goes against the nationalistic mindset which right-wing groups have, groups that also accuse the USA of wanting to take over the world,” explained Eva Kimminich, a professor of social science at the University of Potsdam.
Dresden is a particular hotspot for far-right politics in Germany.
Since late 2014 when it was founded, Pegida have been marching every Monday through the old city against what it describes as the Islamisation of Europe.
Its members are also renowned for their distrust of the political and media establishment. Gallows with the names of leading politicians attached to them have been seen at protests, while journalists – described as belonging to the Lügenpresse (lying press) – have been attacked and beaten.
A poster at a Pegida demo explains one person's vision of the power of the Bilderberg Group. Photo: DPA
Dresden police are taking no precautions. A huge fence has been erected around the hotel, while demonstrations have been banned directly in front of it.
Meanwhile drones have been banned from flying in the vicinity of the building.
The Bilderberg group first met in 1954 in the Bilderberg Hotel in the Netherlands, whence the name.
Meetings have always been held under “Chatham House rules” a code by which the topics of discussion can be published but no mention of who said what.
“It’s an informal group which talks about a variety of topics behind closed doors in order to facilitate open debate,” said Henri de Castries, boss of Axa Insurance and a member of the Bilderberg steering board.
“It is not a parliament. It is not even a functioning organisation. Why shouldn’t these people have the same right not a private sphere as every normal citizen,” he asked.
Whether these words of reassurance will suffice in the home city of Pegida remains to be seen.