Freikörperkultur (FKK) is a German
movement whose name translates to Free Body Culture. It endorses a naturistic
approach to sports and community living. Behind that is the joy of the experience of nature or also of being nude itself, without direct relationship to sexuality. The followers of this culture are called traditional naturists, FKK'ler, or nudists. The German nudist movement was the first worldwide and marked the start of an increased acceptance of public nudity in Germany.
Today, there are only few legal restrictions on public nudity
Early German nudists, 1897
Beginnings in the 18th century
In many parts of central Europe up until the 18th century, people bathed naked in rivers and lakes, although often separately by sex. Beginning in the late 18th century, public nudity became increasingly taboo, though this never penetrated into sparsely-populated Scandinavia. At the same time, Lord Monboddo (1714-1779) practiced and preached nude bathing as a revival of Ancient Greek attitudes toward nudity. This found literary reference in Georg Christoph Lichtenberg's (1742-1799) book Das Luftbad.
"Nude culture" and life reforms - up to World War I
In 1898 the first FKK club was founded in Essen. In 1900 more and more Swedish baths arose in rooms in Berlin and on the North and Baltic seas. A few years before there were mixed sex baths in many places, which, although requiring contemporary, modest bath clothes, were either forbidden or regarded as immoral. Also, in 1900 the naturist movement began in France.
Behind the FKK movement lay, at least in Germany, an attitude towards life in which the naked body is not shameful. The nudity of FKK should not involve sexuality. In this light, the need to be nude in the shower or sauna does not belong with Freikörperkultur, since it's practically necessary. In FKK, nudity has prior group consensus, and therefore demands no reserved zones, such as separate beaches or club areas.
A while later, after the political liberalization, conservative circles tried to challenge the increasingly popular (especially among urban intellectuals) nude baths as a corruption of morality.
Naturism between World War I and World War II
The first nude beach in Germany was established in 1920 on the island of Sylt. In 1933 after the Hitler government came to power, nudist organizations were banned or integrated into Nazi organizations. The first dissertation about the FKK movement was written in the 1930s. The first naturist Olympic Games took place in Thielle inSwitzerland in August 1939.
One of the greatest dangers for German culture and morality is the so-called nudity movement. Greatly as it is to be welcomed in the interest of the public health, that ever wider circles, especially of the metropolitan population, are striving to make the healing power of sun and air and water serviceable to their body, as greatly must the so-called nudity movement be disapproved of as a cultural error. Among women the nudity kills natural modesty; it takes from men their respect for women, and thereby destroys the prerequisite for any genuine culture. It is therefore expected of all police authorities that, in support of the spiritual powers developed through the national movement, they take all police measures to destroy the so-called nude culture. Hermann Göring, 1933 Nazi edict
Himmler and the SS supported Naturism.
In 1942 the first documented nude wedding was celebrated in Elysian Fields, California. In Germany the ban against nude swimming was softened by allowing nude swimming in remote areas in 1942.
From 1945 to present
Young East German women at a naturist beach in Rostock
In 1949, the Deutscher Verband für Freikörperkultur (DFK) (German Association for Free Body Culture) was founded, which today is a member of the German Olympic Sport Federation (DOSB) and the largest member of the International Naturist Federation (INF).
The first naturist holiday resorts were opened around 1950 in France (Centre-Hélio-Marin in Montalivet-les-Bains, Aquitaine, France).
The nude beach in Kampen on the Sylt island in Germany was particularly popular due to extensive media coverage. FKK resorts in Yugoslavia, France and on the coast of the Baltic Sea became popular holiday places. Naturist organizations also gained many new members in the 1960s. Since the end of the 1960s nudity has been an accepted artistic means of expression in many countries.
Nudism was particularly popular in East Germany, possibly because of a more secular cultural development. Especially in the later decades of the 20th century, nudism became very popular. Beach culture was oftentimes intermixed - nude and dressed people would bath together and nudity was widely tolerated.
In response to an influx of German FKK enthusiasts crossing the Alps, the Swiss canton of Appenzell Innerrhoden, which became a popular destination for naked hiking, created laws making nude hiking illegal in 2009.
Germans reacted with ridicule and a lack of understanding for the legal regulations of their Swiss neighbors.
Local regulatory authorities punished public nudity with fines, that many nudists refused to pay. Many nudists filed a group law suit, pleading for legalized nudity, but the case was dismissed in 2011. One nudist had to pay a fine after passing through a Christian rehab center.
In 2012, a nudist from Austria
overflew Innerrhoden by parachute, but was caught by local authorities.