In Germany, stripping down to your birthday suit is a popular pastime for people of all ages, shapes and sizes. For the Meet the Germans series, DW’s Kate Müser explains where clothes are optional.
While Germany may have a reputation for being more tight-laced than neighbors like France or Italy, it’s also famous for making clothing optional – oddly enough, given average annual temperatures hovering at around 13 degrees Celcius (in the mid-50s Fahrenheit).
Here are a few places you can get naked or see other people getting naked in Germany without being ashamed – and without getting arrested.
Nude sports clubs
Germany has long been famous for its so-called “Freikörperkultur” (FKK), or Free Body Culture. Despite the obvious advantages of clothes – in particular, warmth and protection from rain and sleet – the tradition has persisted over the decades.
Though sports have been associated with nakedness for millennia (think Ancient Greece), communal public stripping came into practice in Germany in the late 19th century. Clothing styles were becoming less restrictive as women undid their corsets and men tossed aside their multi-piece suits.
While the FKK movement was squelched by the Nazis, it was rejuvenated in both East and West Germany after World War II, flourishing the most in the East.
The movement has been associated not only with experiencing oneness with nature, but also with physical fitness and freedom of movement. In 1963, the official German Nudity Association, the Deutscher Verband für Freikörperkultur, joined the German Olympic Sports Confederation, which gave the nude movement an even closer connection to sports.
Although it has been struggling to draw new members in recent years, the German Nudity Association currently tallies some 40,000 members of all ages. They get together in clubs across the country to participate in all kinds of sports, from hiking (see above) and boules to volleyball and swimming – all without clothes.
Spending a relaxed day at the spa is a favorite pastime in Germany, where sunshine is rare and even spring and summer temperatures can disappoint. Besides large indoor pools, the saunas and steam rooms are among the biggest spa attractions. The majority of them are open to both genders.
According to the German Sauna Association in 2016, around 30 million people in Germany – 17 million men and 13 million women – visit Germany’s 2,300 public saunas fairly regularly.
While swimsuits are required at the pool, saunas are textile-free zones and most Germans don’t seem to have any problem stripping down. In many cases, they are also open to all genders.
Original publication 9 August, 2017
Posted on NatCorn 17th August 2021
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