The idea of naturism being a lifestyle was born in Germany in the latter part of the nineteenth century and has grown in stature until the present day. 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 in Germany.
Georg Christoph Lichtenberg
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. In 1898 the first Freikörperkultur club was founded in Essen. In 1900 more and more Swedish baths arose in rooms in Berlin and on the North and Baltic seas and a naturist movement began in France. The FKK movement was based on an attitude towards life where the naked body is not a source of shame. Freikörperkultur does not involve sexuality. nakedness in the shower or sauna is Freikörperkultur, since it is practically necessary. Nudity has to have prior group consent, and therefore requires no reserved zones, such as separate beaches or club areas.
The Nacktkultur refers to a network of over 200 private clubs in Germany which promote nudism as a way of connecting the individual to nature. The term was coined in 1902 by Heinrich Pudor, who published a 3-volume treatise in 1906 connecting nudism, vegetarianism and social reform. However, its roots might go back as far as the 1870s. Its major promoters were Adolf Koch and Hans Suren. Germany published the first journal of nudism between 1902 and 1932.
The movement went on to gain prominence in the 1920s, portrayed as both health giving but also for its Utopian ideals. It became politicised by radical socialists who believed it would lead to a breaking down of society and classlessness. It became associated with pacificism. In 1926, Adolf Koch established a school of nudism encouraging a mixing of the sexes, open air exercises, as part of a programme of “sexual hygiene”. In 1929, the Berlin school hosted the first International Congress on Nudity.
During the National Socialist Gleichschaltung era, naturism both benefited from official recognition and sponsorship for its health benefits, and was persecuted as officials argued over the concept of Nacktkultur. In March 1933, Prussian Minister of the Interior Hermann Göring passed laws limiting mixed sex nudism, as a reaction to the increasing immorality of the Weimar state. The nudist regrouped themselves rapidly, excluded ‘Jews’ and ‘Marxists’, elected a Nazi MP as new ‘Fuehrer’ and – to be on the safe side – the new nudist organization became a member of the Sports Movement. Hans von Tschammer und Osten the Nazi sport Fuehrer was MP from the same town as the new nudist President. Nazi sports was keen on more members and the nudist needed the protection of the Nazi party. In January 1934, Reichmeister for the Interior (also in charge of sports), Wilhelm Frick passed edicts restricting naturism outside of the sports clubs due to fears that it was a breeding ground for Marxists and homosexuals. Inside the sports clubs it was yet another example of Gleichschaltung.
Reichmeister Frick’s ban lasted one month. Within a year nudism was being practised with full state support again. However, prohibition did not mean the end of nudism and supporters including even SS leaders. The rules were eventually softened in July 1942.Nevertheless, all naturism clubs had to register with the Reichsbund für Leibesübungenor Kraft durch Freude, which meant excluding Jews and Communists. Also, they had to keep all activities well out in the countryside so there would be virtually no chance of being seen by others. The status as a sports federation with all its rights and privileges (e.g. tax exemptions) was enjoyed so much that the nudism continued as a sports federation in West Germany (and the Federal Republic) after the War.
With political liberalization, conservative circles challenged the nude baths which had become popular among urban intellectuals, seeing them as a corruption of morality.
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 in Switzerland in August 1939. 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. 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 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 Baltic Seacoast became popular holiday places. Naturist organizations gained many new members in the 1960s.
Social nudism and FKK inspired Naturism was particularly popular in East Germany, possibly because of a more secular cultural development. In the later decades of the 20th century, naturism became very popular outside Germany. Beach culture was often intermixed – nude and dressed people would swim together and nudity was widely tolerated. One popular form of Freikörperkultur is Nacktwanderung, literally translated as Naked rambling, where a walking group will collectively hike through the open countryside,which is possible in Germany due to the liberal laws on non-sexual public nudity. This attitude does not extend to German speaking Austria or Switzerland. 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 neighbours.Local regulatory authorities punished public nudity with fines, that many naked ramblers refused to pay. Many naked ramblers filed a group lawsuit, pleading for legalized nudity, but the case was dismissed in 2011. One naked ramblers had to pay a fine after passing through a Christian rehab centre.In 2012, a naturist from Austria overflew Innerrhoden by parachute, but was caught by local authorities.
Lotte Herrlich was an early naturist advocate and as a photographer advanced the cause with her photography. Lotte Herrlich was born as Olga Clara Katharina Herrlich, at Chemnitz, in 1883. She spent most of her life in Hamburg.She began in photography after her son Rolf was born. She started doing family photographs and child portraits for a pastime. Then she continued her self-taught art with portraits and landscapes, nevertheless Lotte found herself particularly engrossed through the years, for portraying the physical development of her son with a collection of naturist photographs. Lotte Herrlich’s intense interest of naturistic photography so awoke.
Such work was discovered by the Naturistenzeitschrift Die Schönheit (The Beauty, nudist magazine), and it then published Lotte Herrlich’s ensuing production: a thousand photographs of children, nine hundred of poses, and still some photographs of landscapes too.
Lotte Herrlich shot her naturist and conventional studio photographs mostly within two improvised rooms inside her small home of Hamburg, exploiting lighting and simple furniture, and so portraying the nude bodies, which were mostly of female models. The poses always were calm, ordinary-world scenes, whereas the models seemed resting, instead of posing. Karl Toepfer wrote: “In her interior shots, Herrlich avoided altogether the secretive atmosphere of the studio, the pose, and the cosmetic artifice, with the result that the naked body appeared as an extension of nature into the timeless bourgeois home.” Lotte Herrlich’s naturism belonged amongst the FKK movement (Freikorperkultur, or Free Body Culture). Such nudity ideals were quite popular particularly in Germany, with its many associations, although this would last until about 1933, when the assuming Nazi regime dissolved them.
Until then, Herrlich’s work was featured in short lived magazines; Mann Und Weib (Man and woman) and Urania are examples. Her books of naturism were published mainly during the 1920s. The physical development of her son Rolf was captured in thirty pictures that were also published in the 1920s. He would become a professional photographer of nudism too. The two volumes of Seliges Nacktsein (1927) are collection of adolescent nudes. Alessandro Bertolotti wrote: “The cover of the second volumes shows a boy and two girls, hand in hand and dancing a joyful farandole, suggesting – by fluid, undulating outlines similar to those of the bacchic dancers of Jugendstil – the ideal of a fraternal friendship in perfect accord with German sensibility”. Lotte Herrlich’s production was broader actually, producing other conventional portraits, of clad people, landscapes, domestic animals, and even dolls, and her work can be found in publications of even after the Second War. Particularly, since the 1930s and until the end of her professional career Lotte Herrlich photographed nude children (Kinderkarte), mainly for divers collections of postcards (Kinderköpfe), whose printing was resumed after the war, during the 1950s.Lotte Herrlich died at Eutin, in 1956.
(information supplied via http://en.wikipedia.org/)