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Naturist holidays shouldn’t start and end at the nudist beach. Browsing the German sites I’ve encountered a few interesting (and less common, at least for someone) options. I decided to make a note of them, just in case.

(1) Nude riding
Those impressed by the legend of Lady Godiva may try to ride naked in the meadows on the south of Bonn. Michael Zauels, who organizes the rides, is quoted to say

The meadows and roads where we ride are very isolated. Sometimes we meet walkers with their dogs, but we come across very favorably.

Rides take place from May to October. The tour may take up from a half to four hours.

coming at ya DSC_8602 by Rob Featonby on Flickr - Photo Sharing!

coming at ya DSC_8602 by Rob Featonby on Flickr - Photo Sharing!

(2) Nude Sailing
German company with its own charter yachts, own base and German skippers organizes one-week and ten-day trips through the Greek islands of the northern Sporades. Sailing experience is not necessary.

deck hand by mediorce on Flickr - Photo Sharing!

deck hand by mediorce on Flickr - Photo Sharing!

(3) Hiking in a birthday suit
Don’t you know that the origins of Nacktwanderns (Naked hiking) go back to the beginning of the last century, when the first pioneers dressed in a romantic understanding of nature started practicing nude walks? Nude hikers prefer small groups and less busy roads. Their website explains that

In random encounters with other hikers we meet occasionally with baffled, but consistently positive reactions.

The hiking tours in Sauerland and in the Taunus are scheduled for April. May will begin with the walk in the Harz. The registration form to participate in the events is provided.

Naked Hike (7772A) by Ron's Log on Flickr - Photo Sharing!

Naked Hike (7772A) by Ron's Log on Flickr - Photo Sharing!

(4) Naked bike ride to the Baltic sea
The Udesom island on the Baltic sea was mentioned twice in my blog (on the occasion of the so called ‘Nudist war‘, see links below). Those German nudist who prefer cycling rather than riding may participate in a Nacktradeltour (Naked bike tour) from Berlin to Usedom. The tour is scheduled to be held from July 24 to August 8, 2010.

Links:
Naked and Active – Naked Horse Riding
Nackt reiten
FKK – Segeln in Griechenland
Nacktwandern – Auch was für Dich?
Die Nackten werden jetzt aktiv von Rudi Stallein
FKK-Urlaub: Die Nackten verlassen die Reservate von Rudi Stallein
Border conflict about nudism
Usedom: Addendum

Sometimes I think that almost every contradiction may be viewed as The Conflict Between East and West.

Seventeen years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the cultural divide between former East Germans and West Germans is being laid bare at beach resorts,” reported Claudia Rach, Bloomberg News two years ago (see also The New York Sun from September 7, 2006).

K. Bacher in his famous “205 Arguments and Observations In Support of Naturism” quotes Lee Baxandall, according whom

“almost every town on East Germany’s coast has an FKK beach, some 90 sites serving 200,000 campers/lodgers annually; more FKK than textile beaches. A GDR poll found 57% of the population approving of nude recreation, 30% had no opinion, and only 13% opposed.”

FKK-Strand am Schwielochsee. Bild 183-1985-0817-002

FKK-Strand am Schwielochsee

Even, if the German Democratic Republic (GDR) was “Unrechtsstaat” (”unjust state”), while now East Germany is “free,” many of its beaches aren’t. The West is blamed for exporting to the East both pornography and beach restrictions.

Nowadays according to the estimations ascribed to the DFK (German naturist federation) as many as two-fifths of beaches previously used by nudists since Germany reunified in 1990 has lost their nudist statuses.

Claudia Rach wrote that

Since communism’s collapse in 1989, Baltic resorts have added new hotels and restaurants, renovated boardwalks and cleaned up water pollution.
That led to a surge in western tourists, with visitors to the Baltic coast jumping to 5.06 million last year from 1.98 million in 1992, according to the statistical office for the state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.
Property prices in Germany’s Baltic region have risen 25 percent since 1995, more than the national average, according to a study by the GEWOS Institute for Urban, Regional and Housing Research in Hamburg.
“When people with money holiday in freshly renovated resorts, the last thing they want are naked bodies on their doorstep,” said Wolfgang Weinreich, head of the International Naturist Federation.

The reporter quotes Urs Wagner, the German naturist and Berlin retiree, 57, who said, “It’s a really intense feeling of nature that everyone should experience. But who knows for how much longer. We’re a dying breed.”

In my previous post about the nudist war on the German-Polish border I mainly quoted news articles. They do indeed make an impression that the open-minded Germans contrast with the Poles in their readiness to accept nudity. Of course, not all Germans are open-minded (but I think many of them are :-)). While, concerning the Poles, it is true that the Catholic Church has a strong presence in Polish society. It has roots in the history. In 1795, the third and the last of three military partitions of Poland ended the existence of an independent Polish state. In the absence of their own state, the Polish society begun identifying Polishness with Catholicism. In 1918 the Polish state was reconstructed, but after the Second World War Poland was under the control of pro-Soviet Communists and the situation repeated (see, e.g., Catholicism and politics in communist societies by Sabrina P. Ramet).

It had far-reaching consequences. Catholicism does not accept nudity. In 2002 the results of the investigations of Sopocka Pracownia Badań Społecznych (Sopot Laboratory for Social Research) were published. It appeared that

57% of all Polish spouses never saw their husband or wife naked.
92% of Poles claim that, going naked in their homes, even for a moment, is strictly prohibited.
97% of Polish sons did not see their fathers naked.
95% of Polish daughters never saw their mothers naked and so on.

It raised questions like, “Are we a nation of people who are ashamed of their bodies?” But I would not overestimate the results of the surveys like that. The transition of Poland from closed society to an open society allows for a distinction between natural and man-made law, and an increase in personal responsibility and accountability for moral choices.

Concerning German-Polish nude bathing war the German site, The Local, quotes Robert Karelus, spokesman for the city of Świnoujście, who said that

Poles weren’t as squeamish about nude bathing as had been portrayed in the media.
Swimming in the buff was getting more popular in Poland and several nudist beaches had sprung up off the coast of Poland too in recent years.
The new signs on Usedom will not prompt Polish beach-goers to turn back.
We aren’t so prudish at all.

Ala

Ala, originally uploaded by jędrek.

On the 21st of December 2007 Poland entered into the Schengen agreement and soon afterwards the Usedom beach on the German-Polish border between the German and Polish towns of Ahlbeck and Świnoujście (Swinemünde), became the scene of … the ‘Nudist war‘. At least the German tabloid Bild depicted the local conflict as ‘Nudist war on the German-Polish border‘. If you are interested in news about naturism or paying attention to anything weird you presumably didn’t miss this story. I think, any book or series of posts about German naturism would not be complete without it :-). So I’ll state it here in brief.

A map of the islands of Usedom and Wolin and environs, Germany/Poland.

A map of the islands of Usedom and Wolin and environs, Germany/Poland.

The Baltic Sea island of Usedom is divided by the border between Germany and Poland into the German and Polish parts. Usedom has six nudist beaches along its 40-kilometer stretch of coastline – one of which is just a few meters from the border. The beaches have been nudist beaches for almost fifty years, at least on the German side (The German part of the island belonged to East Germany between 1949 and 1990).

The oldest publications that I’ve found are dated August 2008, the newest are from April and May, 2009. At the end of 2007 and at the beginning of 2008 everything looked perfect. The online magazine Cafebabel.com cited Janusz Zmurkiewicz, president of Świnoujście, who said in December 2007: ‘Finally we will be able to cross over without showing our passports wearing only our swimming costumes in summer’. But, as Monika Stefanek, the author of the article in Cafebabel.com, noted, there was one thing he couldn’t have foreseen: not everyone on the German side of the beach covers themselves up. The problem came to light with the first summer temperatures.

Achtung Grenze: Die Polen auf Usedom sind entsetzt, wie nackt es auf der anderen Seite zugeht.

Achtung Grenze: Die Polen auf Usedom sind entsetzt, wie nackt es auf der anderen Seite zugeht.

When the border signs on Usedom island were removed, Polish holidaymakers moved their feet to yet unknown beach across the border and many of them were outraged by the nudists. “I do not want my four year old daughter to know the anatomy” said a 47-year-old Polish woman. Kazimierz Sajadeusz, the 68-year-old priest in Świnoujście,  stressed: “From a Catholic point of view the nudists are sinners.” Edward Zajac, a councillor for Świnoujście, a self-proclaimed ‘moral guardian’, wanted to relocate the nudist beach far from the Polish border. If this is not possible, the nudist area should be shielded from view.

The Germans replied that what people forget today is that Goethe bathed naked, Bismarck bathed naked, and the royal spa-doctor Richard Kind from Swinemünde on Usedom warned in 1828 against bathing in swimsuits, because they neutralize the beneficial effect of the pounding of the waves. … The bathing war is as old as bathing itself.

Ein Paradies für Nudisten: Auf der Insel Usedom hat die Freikörperkultur (FKK) schon zu DDR-Zeiten die Touristen angezogen.

Ein Paradies für Nudisten: Auf der Insel Usedom hat die Freikörperkultur (FKK) schon zu DDR-Zeiten die Touristen angezogen.

France24 concludes: ‘Passport controls between Poland and Germany may have vanished. But the border dividing sunbathers in swimming suits and those wearing nothing at all is as rigid as ever.’

Auf deutscher Seite sieht das am Strand oft so aus.

Auf deutscher Seite sieht das am Strand oft so aus.

A few months ago a nudist compromise between Germany and Poland or a ceasefire was set to end the nudist war on Usedom beach. A peace plan provides that signs written in both German and Polish should mark off the naked-friendly territory from the clothes-only section. Additional signs will be prominently placed to remind German sunbathers that the Poles want to keep their beach free of bare bum sightings (quoted from Bild.com).

The locals of the island don’t like the interest that they have provoked by this conflict. They believe that the international press seems to be much more interested in this affair than the local one. And that there are a lot of real important things which are worth to be published. The mentioned international mass media consider it as a conflict of values between open-minded Germans and strict Catholics in Poland. But I would not oversimplify the issue.

In one of my previous posts I wrote about a ban imposed by the East German Communist government on naturism in the 1950s. The book “Sex, thugs and rock ‘n’ roll” by Mark Fenemore may explain what was behind this decision. As always it was due to of ‘high politics’. In 1953 Stalin died in the Soviet Union. The Khrushchev‘s rush for power in the Communist Empire led him to denunciation of Stalin at the 20th Communist Party Congress in February 1956. This in turn led to plots and political manoeuvres under the slogans of ‘de-Stalinization’ in the countries of the Soviet bloc.

From 1950 the leader of Eastern Germany was Walter Ulbricht, the General Secretary of the SED (The Socialist Unity Party of Germany) Central Committee. It was believed that after the death of Stalin his position was in danger for some time, because of his reputation as a hard Stalinist. His opponents began criticizing his policies and style of rule with a view to remove him. They called for a more humanistic socialism.

Many utopian and eccentric ideas how to reform socialism emerged in 1953-56. It was suggested then that the health benefits of nudism warranted not only its legalization but the creation of a nudist mass organization in the GDR. Someone believed that nudism could help in creation of New Communist Man, because nakedness would ‘deconstruct old conditioned reflexes and construct new ones in their place’. Already in 1924 Leon Trotsky wrote in his Literature and Revolution: “The human species, the coagulated Homo sapiens, will once more enter into a state of radical transformation“. The most of the SED leaders did not support these ideas. As regards Ulbricht, he kept and even strengthened his power. In 1960 he became the Chairman of the State Council of the German Democratic Republic, i.e. official Head of State.

The struggle for power within the SED resulted in the zigzag policies in relation to gender, youth and sexuality. In 1954-55 there were numerous futile attempts to suppress nudism by force. Mark Fenemore wrote: “The reason why the communist leaders were so determined to repress nudism was that they viewed it as a dangerous (and contagious) form of Social Democratic immunity (or ‘resistance’ to ideological persuasion). They also felt that young people corrupted by the West were using nudism ‘as a cover for mischief’. As late as 1960, policemen were sent onto the beaches to repress nudist subculture armed with machine guns.

Freikörperkultur an der Ostsee

Freikörperkultur an der Ostsee

Nevertheless, nudism survived in the GDR. Already in the early 1960s it was not considered anymore as a suspect, minority activity and became a largely unpolitical mass- participation, mass-spectator sport.

P.S. Well, these East Germans just wanted to have a nice time by the sea and found themselves engaged in plots based on the idiotic philosophizing!

In my previous post I’ve already mentioned the image donation from the German photography archives Deutsche Fotothek to Wikimedia Commons. The East German photography is less known than western, but the works of real masters are worth to be discovered.

Recently, I’ve found out for myself the photographic art of Roger and Renate Rössing. According to Wikipedia, Roger Rössing (1929-2006) was one of the most famous photographers in eastern Germany. Renate (1929-2005) met Roger Rössing at the photographic classes of School of Visual Arts in Leipzig they attended between 1948 and 1951. Together they have published about 90 picture books.

Renate und Roger Rössing mit einem Freund während einer Filmszene

Renate und Roger Rössing mit einem Freund während einer Filmszene

In 1952 they took a series of photographs devoted to Nacktkultur which drew my attention by their old fashioned and conservative style. It was the time when naturism began expanding in East Germany. But only since the 1970s the nude bathing in lakes and the Baltic Sea became widespread.

Badende

Badende

One can discover the photographs taken by Roger and Renate Rössing here.