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Social justice would consist in the balance between freedom and law, between rights and the duties which would affect what individuals got in the way of increased values and rights they also rendered back in the way of increased service to society. I suppose, in a general way, anyone who admitted there was any ethics to the question at all would have to admit that it would have to be found in some such equation between benefits received from society and benefits conferred to society. (John Dewey, Lectures on Ethics, 1900 – 1901)

Some Australian visitor to Berlin has mentioned that during a week’s stay in the German capital he hasn’t seen a cop. The only officer he managed to find was a parking inspector. From the article appeared in Culture column of Deutsche Welle, Germany’s international broadcaster, the reader may learn that there is not many police or surveillance cameras in Berlin compared to other major cities. According to the article, England has some 4.2 million surveillance cameras – equating to one for every 14 people – and most can be found in London, while in Berlin such cameras barely exist, and not because the government can’t afford them. It seems that the locals do what they want – within limits, of course – practicing a strange sort of self-governance.

People freely drink alcohol on the streets and in the subway, successfully carry on “illegal” parties in public parks, get nude in said parks, smoke dope wherever they like, sell food and drink without a license, or open unauthorized bars in their apartments, seemingly with the tacit acceptance of the law.

Someone may be dismayed by all this liberty. It’s as if the people can be trusted.

A quiet read in the sun By canonsnapper | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

A quiet read in the sun By canonsnapper | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

Source: Berliners play by their own rules | Culture column | Deutsche Welle

Image: A quiet read in the sun | Flickr – Photo Sharing! (under Creative Commons license)

P.S. One Flickr member commented on the photo: “… Can someone sunbathe stark naked in Berlin? In what seems to be a public park? Without getting arrested? This is extraordinary…” Another answered: “This is BERLIN!

The nudist and nude beaches attract many free spirits to escape from the ordinary everyday life (news.at)

The site news.at has published FKK-Tips of the Year (in the form of slideshow). The list of  Top 10 FKK-Events 2011 from the point of view of Austrian website contains:

  1. World Naked Bike Ride (March, 12 2011).

    World Naked Bike Ride - London 2009 (Wikimedia Commons)

    World Naked Bike Ride - London 2009 (Wikimedia Commons)

  2. Thermal sources in Tokyo, Japan. Baths are fed by natural hot springs in Ooedo-Onsen-Monogatari (hot springs theme park). Visitors are strictly separated by gender.
  3. Ayana Bali Resort and Spa in Indonesia
  4. Kothiharjum sauna in Kallio, Helsinki, Finland
  5. World Body Paint Festival at the Wörthersee, an alpine lake in the southern Austrian state of Carinthia (Pörtschach am Wörthersee, Austria, June, 27 – July, 3 2011). The World Body Paint Festival is the biggest art event of its kind. Around 30,000 visitors and artists, photographers and musicians from more than 40 nations together create the most colorful event in Europe.
  6. Nudist stronghold: Cap d’Agde in France. Cap d’Agde in southern France may be the most unusual small town in the world. It is the largest nudist resort in Europe. During the main summer season, the number of residents and tourists exceeds 40,000.
    Sign on the beach at Cap d'Agde (Wikimedia Commons)

    Sign on the beach at Cap d'Agde (Wikimedia Commons)

  7. Schoenefeld meadows in Munich, Germany. The English Garden is the largest urban park in the world, larger than London’s Hyde Park or Central Park in New York. In the south of the English Garden there are the Schoenfeld meadows, which are officially reserved for naturists. Feel free to join and enjoy the sun.
  8. Haulover Beach in Miami Beach, Florida, USA. The nude beach Haulover Beach near Miami is one of the few “legal” nude beaches in the United States. The beach is ideal for surfing, swimming and sunbathing.
    Haulover beach (Wikimedia Commons)

    Haulover beach (Wikimedia Commons)

  9. Naked ship: Nudist Cruise in Split, Croatia. A textile-free sailing from the stunning Dalmatian coast in Croatia (starting June, 11 2011).
  10. Nudist-cultural event: Burning Man in Nevada, USA (from August, 29 till September, 5 2011 in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada). Being naked is, of course, fully accepted.

Source: FKK-Tipps des Jahres (in German)
Draft version of this post was also published in my Tumblr blog.
See also Ideas for FKK-Urlaub.

On January 28, 2011 the popular Russian internet newspaper Pravda.Ru which pretends to be a kind of successor to the Communist newspaper Pravda (closed in 1991) published an article “Pedantic Germans: Naked and funny” in which the history of nudist movement is considered in brief.

From the article the reader can learn that:

  • the word “nudism” normally causes embarrassed smiles.
  • the lack of clothing is the brightest characteristic of an ardent nudist.
  • nudism is based on the entire philosophy.
  • nudism emerged in Germany between the two world wars. The first public manifestation of naturism disappointed the onlookers.
  • the first naturists considered themselves no less than revolutionary vanguard of militant proletariat. In the 1920s the followers of naturism or nudism were inspired by then trendy ideas of social democracy and communism. (To win against the sleek bourgeois consuming foods rich in vitamins and leading a healthy lifestyle, the working men had to strengthen their body and spirit. Down from the stuffy plants and factories and into the wild!)
  • nude men and women immediately became a tourist attraction in the German capital for local and visiting philistines.
  • socialist ideals gave to mankind not only naturism, but also morning exercises.

The author of the article gives an example of a comic situation related to nudist movement.

On the day of Holy Trinity in 1929, nudists from Saxony scheduled an event similar to the contemporary flash mob in the district of Zwickau-Planica. People learned about the upcoming “show” from the newspapers, which resulted in a steady flow of onlookers, including those from neighboring regions. On Sunday morning, on a large religious holiday, instead of serving in the temples, crowds hurried to look at nudists. However, instead of lewd scenes, their saw the following picture: on a grassy lawn, there were approximately forty to fifty people who have carefully folded their clothes, and were doing pushups, squats and other exercises. There was a crowd of a few thousand people waiting for some kind of orgy and somewhat disappointed with its absence. Sometime later the police showed up and asked the crown to disperse.

Source: Pedantic Germans: Naked and funny – English pravda.ru (the quotes are from the English version of the Internet newspaper)

at the grunewaldsee by running_dog | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

at the grunewaldsee by running_dog | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

Image: at the grunewaldsee by running_dog | Flickr – Photo Sharing! (available under a Creative Commons License)

Is there anything common between naturism and thermodynamics? Maren Möhring, the author of Working Out the Body’s Boundaries: Physiological, Aesthetic, and Psychic Dimensions of the Skin in German Nudism, 1890-1930 (in Body parts: critical explorations in corporeality, edited by Christopher E. Forth, Ivan Crozier, p. 229-246), argues in favor of the existence of close links between naturism (at least, German naturism) and what she calls thermodynamic theories of energy. Referring to The Human Motor by Anson Rabinbach and multiple naturist sources, she affirms that in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries the body

was conceptualized as a thermodynamic machine haunted continuously by the threat of exhaustion. Within a thermodynamic universe fixated on energy conservation, the importance of the skin was based on its capacity to absorb the rays of the sun and thus to energize the body. The nudists believed that the “electricity of the sun,” the “beneficial, invigorating and refreshing ultraviolet rays,” would restore the body`s energy supply. It has not yet been noticed in the literature on nudism that society‘s growing acceptance of sunbathing might be connected to this energetic imperative.

Dr. Maren Möhring asserts that nudists considered not only sun-bathing, but also “artificial” electric light baths, and even X-rays (X-rays bath? I don’t think that someone tried it) as healthy and revitalizing for the body. Even sunburn was not able to frighten nudists of that time. It was considered a “health enforcing” phenomenon because it “hardened the skin” and allowed new skin to emerge after the burned skin had peeled away. From that point of view even the tiniest piece of clothing could disturb this energizing process, so the slogan: “Fight the bathing trunks! Fight any kind of bathing costume!” was put forward.

Well, it was interesting to read about the modern scientization of the body, but I could not find in the article any assumptions (accepted by early nudists) about the physical mechanism that could be behind the above-mentioned thermodynamical skin’s capacity to absorb the rays of the sun and to revitalize the body. The simple fact that skin can hardly be considered as the principal organ responsible for power supply of the human body makes this thermodynamical theory hanging in midair. I think that even the pioneers of nudism didn’t underestimate the importance of nutrition and didn’t try to live on sun rays.

Empty sea by jonathan charles photo | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

Empty sea by jonathan charles photo | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

Chronology

Period of free development

The late 19th century. Organized social nudism started in Germany. Sunbathing was recognized as an especially healthy form of recreation, and the nude body was rediscovered as an expression of naturalness and true morality [1]. The flourishing of nudism in Germany is also considered as a reaction to the extreme moral conservatism of 19th-century Prussia. On the other hand, conservative circles viewed nude bathing as a moral decay [2].
1920s – 1930s. In the Weimar Republic, the movement was accepted by the majority of the people and became part of mass culture. Nudism developed in many different branches and tested the legal boundaries of ‘indecent behaviour’ [3].

Strict prohibitions

1933 The Nazis had outlawed many of the nudist organizations for lewdness.
1945 The Allies prohibited nudist movement after World War II [3].
1954 The GDR government introduced the ban on nude bathing for the entire East German Baltic Sea coast

Under control

Late 1933. Some nudist organizations united under the umbrella of the Nazi sport movement and became legal.
1946 Various FKK clubs were allowed by the Allies
1940s – 1960s (the Adenauer era) In West Germany nudity was equated with pornography and nudist movement was unable to regain mass popularity [1].
1950s-1980s In East Germany FKK continued and even expanded its mass appeal even though FKK clubs were not officially allowed. East-German citizens could choose between FKK beaches and Textilstranden (textile beaches) where swimsuits were worn [1].

FKK-Strand im Bezirk Cottbus, July 1982 (Deutsches Bundesarchiv)

FKK-Strand im Bezirk Cottbus, July 1982 (Deutsches Bundesarchiv)

Present

After 1990 With unification, the textiles began to dominate again at many beaches. But in the new millennium, the non-club-oriented, laissez-faire attitude seems to have won over most people. Nowadays, discussions about nudity flare up in the media, but in everyday life few people are offended to see someone strip completely, even in a public park [1].

Links
1. Catherine C. Fraser, Dierk O. Hoffmann. Pop culture Germany. ABC-CLIO (2006)
2. Freikörperkultur – Wikipedia
3. A. Krüger , F. Krüger , S. Treptau. Nudism in Nazi Germany: Indecent Behaviour or Physical Culture for the Well-being of the Nation. The International Journal of the History of Sport, 19, (2002) 33 – 54.