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Authors: Jacob Nordangård

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Mandatory sterilisation programmes were initiated in several U.S. states, the first as early as 1907 in Indiana, only decades later spreading overseas (Denmark 1929, Germany 1933, Sweden 1934–77, Finland 1935, China 1978).

Bureau of Social Hygiene

In 1911 John D. Rockefeller Jr. helped found the Bureau of Social Hygiene to address social problems in New York, such as prostitution, corruption, drug use and juvenile delinquency, and to create better sanitary conditions.

The Bureau funded sexual education and research into psychological, physiological and sociological aspects of the ‘sex instinct,’ abstinence, masturbation, contraception, venereal disease, and sexual relationships.

Sensitive studies which BSH was unwilling to openly fund, such as the request for $10,000 from Margaret Sanger’s American Birth Control League to study contraceptives in 1924, John D. Jr. would support privately.
The hostile attacks from Sanger a decade earlier were by then clearly forgiven by their mutual interest in curtailing reproduction.

From 1928,
John D. III
, became a board member of the BSH. Just like his father, he developed a life-long interest in population matters and family planning.

BSH ceased its operations in 1934 and research into sexual and reproductive matters was instead financed by Rockefeller Foundation. Sensitive projects funded by Rockefeller Foundation included the groundbreaking but controversial study
Sexual Behavior in the Human Male
(1948) by
Alfred Kinsey
, which “transformed American society by challenging American perceptions and attitudes toward sex”, according to the Rockefeller Foundation Archives.

Kaiser Wilhelm Institute

Through the 1930s, Rockefeller Foundation also helped finance the infamous Kaiser Wilhelm Institute of Anthropology, Human Heredity, and Eugenics, founded in 1927 in Berlin, Germany. After WWII, when eugenics had become disreputable for well-known reasons, the Rockefeller family still kept pursuing the cause under different names, such as population control, family planning, genetics, and transhumanism (see also Chapter 12).


1911, the same year Standard Oil was split up, the Rockefeller business ventures expanded to include banking. Through the acquisition of the Equitable Trust Company
all accounts from the former Standard Oil companies and the Rockefeller philanthropic ventures could be gathered in
their own bank. It soon grew to become the eighth largest in the USA.

Chase Manhattan Bank

In 1929, the Equitable Trust Company was merged with Chase Manhattan (later Chase Bank) and became the bastion and financial tool of the Rockefeller clan. It was closely linked with the Standard Oil Company,
especially Exxon, and would become one of the world's most influential banks.

The Board of Directors of Chase included several representatives from the Rockefeller oil companies. Winthrop Aldrich, brother-in-law of John D. Rockefeller Jr. was elected chairman of the bank. Later, John D. Junior’s son David Rockefeller became Chief Executive (1960–80), and remained chairman until 1981. In 2000, Chase merged with Rothschild’s bank J.P. Morgan and grew even more powerful.

National City Bank

The other brother, William Avery Rockefeller Jr., helped build up the competing National City Bank of New York (later
Citigroup), which two generations later would be led by his grandson, James Stillman Rockefeller.

Long-term Strategic Planning

By using foundations and charities the Rockefellers and their allies have been able to avoid the short-term goals of politics and business and promote any long-term development they wish to see, by methodical step-by-step action, while also appearing as generous and benevolent philanthropists. Through strategic donations, their philanthropies have become an invisible hand which has almost imperceptibly wielded a considerable influence on the turn of events in the United States and the world.

Right from the onset, the family has been very careful in choosing what to support, while meddling in almost every area of human activity; energy, politics, religion, banking, media, education, medicine, agriculture, technology, futurism, population control, and conservation – areas which, during the next century, would be merged under the major global threat of climate change, requiring the ultimate solution; a sustainable Utopia with global control over natural and human resources.


We cannot escape, and indeed should welcome, the task which history has imposed on us. This is the task of helping to shape a new world order in all its dimensions—
spiritual, economic, political, social. (Special Studies Project: The Mid-Century Challenge to U.S. Foreign Policy, 1959)


he 1940s marked the start of a new era with the children of John D. Rockefeller Jr. entering the stage.
They had now received the education and experience necessary to develop the legacy of their father and grandfather.

In 1940, the brothers, John D. III, Nelson, Laurance, Winthrop, and David, founded the Rockefeller Brothers Fund (RBF) after a series of meetings initiated by Nelson, where they had discussed problems and mutual interests. The stated purpose of RBF was to “advance social change that contributes to a more just, sustainable, and peaceful world."
Through this foundation the brothers would be able to hone their philanthropic skills.

All five brothers became members of the first board of directors, with the eldest, John D. III, as chairman. Their sister, Abigail ‘Babs’ Rockefeller Mauzé (1903–1976), did not join until 1954.
The two most philanthropically minded brothers,
John D. III
were initially the most active in RBF, while
went into politics (as the governors of New York and Arkansas, respectively) and
focused on banking and finance.

In 1951, modernist architect Wallace Harrison was invited to join the board, together with the chairman of the National Academy of Science, Detlev Bronk. Through the latter, the family gained a valuable link to the scientific community, which would be masterfully used as Bronk became a central player in the climate research policies of the 1950s (see Chapter 3).

While the Rockefeller Foundation mainly funded research, RBF was more focused on activism and politics. RBF thus became a powerful tool both for building strategies and for financing activities advantageous to the Rockefeller family's ambitions for the world.

Rockefeller Foundation and RBF complemented each other and were closely linked, as John D. III was also chairman of the Rockefeller Foundation (1952–1971). Both foundations used large-scale planning “for the survival of humanity and the planet” in order to change both mankind and the world in a fundamental way.

The family’s influence over American politics, philanthropy, and finance was unprecedented. After WWII the world lay practically at their feet.

Central themes have from the onset been population control, conservation, and resource management, as well as the promotion of an international political structure for handling these issues. This was made possible and became especially obvious when John D. Rockefeller Jr. donated US$ 58 miljon to RBFs Special Program in 1951.
Annual Report

Accordingly, the trustees decided that the program of the Fund should be expanded to include the support or possibly in some instances the direct operation of experimental or new undertakings in areas of special interest to the trustees, which fall generally into the broad fields of human relations, international relations, and development of human and natural resources.


Conservation was an early priority for RBF, especially in relation to the effects of humans on the natural environment. The Rockefeller family’s foundations would play a leading role in the emergence of the green movement, mainly through Laurance, chairman of RBF for over twenty years, who was the most passionate about conservation of the brothers. He was nick-named
Mr. Conservation.

In 1935, Laurance became board member of the New York Zoological Society (later Wildlife Conservation Society) where he met Fairfield Osborn, who became his mentor and close friend.

Fairfield Osborn (1887–1969) was the son of palaeontologist and eugenicist Henry Fairfield Osborn (1857–1935), a disciple of British Darwinist Thomas Huxley. Fairfield was the cousin of the eugenicist Frederick Osborn (1889–1981) of the Population Council and the American Eugenics Society. The cousins were heirs to the J. P. Morgan banking family and railway magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt. It was a rich man’s club with close connections between the boardrooms of their foundations.

In 1948, Osborn wrote
Our Plundered Planet
which, together with William Vogt’s
Road to Survival
, published the same year, laid the foundation for the modern conservation and population discourse. Osborn felt that a sustainable use of natural resources could only be attained in an international context.

Conservation Foundation

In 1948, Laurance Rockefeller and Fairfield Osborn founded the Conservation Foundation with funding from RBF, Rockefeller Foundation and Ford Foundation (which had close ties to the Rockefeller charities). The Board of Directors came from the Rockefeller network and included William Vogt, Samuel Ordway, and Nobel Prize laureate Sir John Boyd-Orr from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Conservation Foundation was dominated by Neo-Malthusian ideas about the planet's carrying capacity in relation to the number of people and the resources available. Its purpose was to halt degradation of the natural environment and reinstate a balance between man and nature.

There was also an early interest in man’s impact on the climate. Through Laurance, several Conservation Foundation members would come to play key roles in bringing these concerns to the political arena in both the United States and the rest of the world. Contacts with the White House were well established, not least through Laurance becoming advisor to several U.S. Presidents. Conservation Foundation became pivotal in the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the early 1970s.


Laurance’s commitment to conservation went beyond Conservation Foundation. In 1958 he founded the American Conservation Association and the year after, Resources for the Future. All in all, he was connected to over fifty environmental organisations, including National Geographic Society and World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

International Union for Conservation of Nature

Conservation became an international concern. In 1948, Julian Huxley, general secretary of UNESCO, founded the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Julian Huxley was the grandson of anthropologist Thomas Huxley and brother of the author Aldous Huxley. Julian had been secretary of London Zoological Society 1935–42 and was chairman of both the British Eugenics Society and the British Humanist Society. In 1957 he coined the term “transhumanism.”

Huxley’s advocacy of internationalism, eugenics, population control, and evolutionary humanism (a secular humanist religion) coincided with the
of the Rockefeller family and Conservation Foundation.
He became a valuable ally.

Up until the 1970s, conservation was largely a concern for an Anglo–American elite. The Rockefeller family became an important link between the two countries, while also financing both IUCN and UNESCO.


After WWII, the population issue, like conservation, became even more pressing. This subject became John D. III’s special interest. John had struggled in his role as the eldest brother and often found himself in the shadow of his extroverted brother Nelson.

Even though John made significant contributions in philanthropy and in the relations with Asia (through Asia Society and other NGOs), it was his involvement in the population matter that became his lasting legacy and he became known as Mr Population.

The Population Council

In 1952, the Conference on Population Problem was held, at the initiative of John D. III,
Lewis Strauss (RBF’s financial advisor)
, and
Detlev Bronk (chairman of the conference). T
hirty handpicked proponents for population control were invited.
The conference resulted in the founding of the Population Council six months later. Its mission was to develop a global plan for keeping the world's population growth in check.

In the 1940s and early 50s, several methods had been proposed as solutions to the population issue; increased social and economic equality; better distribution of the world’s population by international migration; and fertility control.

Population Council chose the latter and would work primarily in developing countries with social studies and experiments aimed at lowering fertility by family planning and sterilisations. This was done in collaboration with the pharmaceutical industry both dominated by and closely linked to the Rockefellers. After its founding, the Population Council moved into a building on the campus of Rockefeller Institute (1953–68 headed by Detlev Bronk).

The Population Council Board of Directors (with John III as Chairman), included Bronk, Strauss, and Frederick Osborn
(from American Eugenics Society)
who had
expressed clearly elitist ideas about who should inhabit the planet in the future. Frederick’s cousin Fairfield Osborn from Conservation Foundation was also a member of the Population Council.

…we need the greatest number of births among genetically superior individuals. (Frederick Osborn,
Eugenics Review

The old ideals had been rebranded but the goals were the same.

Meanwhile, initiatives were taken to sway public opinion in support of more drastic measures.


Closely related to the population issue, was agriculture. It was a major area of philanthropy for the Rockefeller Foundation. Their agricultural modernisation programmes were initiated during WWII and spawned the green revolution of post-war agriculture. In RF’s own words:

Today it is nearly impossible to imagine the global transformation of agriculture without the Rockefeller Foundation (RF). From the 1940s through the 1960s, it founded permanent 
research facilities
 in Mexico, the Philippines, Colombia, and Nigeria. These centers bred higher-yield grains, reduced crops’ susceptibility to disease, improved fertilizers, and instructed farmers in efficient sowing and irrigation techniques.

This revolution, initially focusing on seed hybridisation and more efficient fertilisation and irrigation systems, meant traditional farming methods would be replaced by more large-scale, energy-intensive industrial agriculture. This significantly increased crop yields and relieved hunger, but also made agriculture highly dependent on petroleum products and synthetic fertilisers and pesticides, creating huge profits for leading chemical companies such as Dow Chemicals, BASF, Monsanto, DuPont, and Bayer AG.

In the 1970s, Rockefeller Foundation started creating global institutions for coordinating international agricultural research, such as the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), founded in 1971 in partnership with other philanthropic foundations, governments and international institutions (such as the Ford Foundation, the OPEC fund, the European Commission, UNDP, and the World Bank).

Rockefeller Foundation, under the leadership of
John D. III, was
also deeply involved in the biotech revolution with genetically modified organisms (GMO) to relieve world hunger. This fundamental transformation of agriculture may be founded in a genuine will to create food security for the world, but also gave influence over the world system through controlling life itself and changing it at the most fundamental level – an old alchemical dream. The crises highlighted by RF and RBF also became sources of revenue and influence for the Rockefellers and their allies in the agricultural, chemical and later biotech industries. Through the technologies developed to save the world, the power of associated multinational corporations would also keep growing.

The enduring legacy of the RF is a changed world agriculture regime, characterized by scientific methods, global information exchange, and the treatment of food production as a business enterprise. (Rockefeller Foundation)


Religion was always a strong motivating force for the Rockefeller family.


A Baptist like his parents,
John D. Jr.
favoured an ecumenical approach, uniting all protestant churches. He donated large sums to the Interchurch World Movement, the
Federal Council of Churches
, the
Institute of Social and Religious Research
, and to the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York. In 1930, with baptist pastor Harry Emerson Fosdick, Junior founded the ecumenical Riverside Church in New York, built in neo-gothic style and open to all denominations with faith in Christ.

In 1958, he also donated towards the building of Interchurch Center, 475 Riverside Drive, opposite Riverside Church, near Columbia University and S:t John the Divine. This was an ecumenical center, housing a large number of religious organisations, nicknamed the God Box. Tellingly, both Rockefeller Brothers Fund and Rockefeller Family Fund share office space in the God Box.

BOOK: Rockefeller – Controlling the Game
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