The West must learn Naturism from the East says Gregor Gysi.
Gregor Gysi (https://twitter.com/GregorGysi ) 69, is the Chair of the European Left Group in the European Parliament and a Left Party member of the Bundestag representing Berlin Treptow-Köpenick. He often speaks about the positives of the former East German Communist State highlighting where things were better under that regime than the Western Free Market Democracy of the united Germany.
Gregor was interviewed by Else Buschheuer (https://twitter.com/hashtag/nacktfuergysi?src=hash) for Playboy magazine and as a result prompted a wide ranging discussion of Naturism/Free Body Culture in the German speaking World. This has even filtered into the English speaking World. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/08/10/german-politician-says-time-right-revival-nudist-culture/
Gregor talks about a decline in what we would call non-sexual social Naturism because of the obsession with Pornography in Western culture. For example at the famous Strandbad Wannsee in Berlin, the longest inland beach in Europe, the Naturist area has been reduced by 70 meters because the authorities say there is a lack of demand.
Gregor claims that in Western culture naked people are seen everywhere, in advertising, in newspapers, in films; but less and less on Naturist beaches.
When asked if he would go naked in Public Gregor claimed that at 69 he was too old and quipped that he would do so if Angela Merkel would join him on a Naturist beach.
Gregor Gysi on Facebook
Konrad Weller, Professor of Sexual Science at Merseburg University of Applied Sciences; has found in several studies that Naturism/Free Body Culture in the former East Germany has become more restrained since reunification.
“In the last years of the German Democratic Republic, 90 percent of the youngsters had nudist experiences. In 2013 it was only half, “says Weller. However he does not see a new prudery.
On the contrary, the obsession with Pornography in Western culture has a pervasive presence, and ensures that naked skin loses its innocence becoming more shameful, says Weller. This view is different from the relaxed and broadly nudist FKK culture of the German Democratic Republic, which today many adolescents no longer experienced. “The idea of seeing nakedness without being aroused is lost” says the researcher.
Herbert Steffan, President of the German Federation for Free Body Culture (DFK); has done several interviews with the mainstream media. He was asked if Naturism/Free Body Culture is not a classic (DDR) East tradition?
He says: “Naturally, Naturism/Free Body Culture is a question of definition”; “When it comes to those who jump naked into the lake, we talk about millions. And then there is the hard core, which cultivates Naturism/Free Body Culture as a lifestyle both in summer and in winter. In the 135 clubs in Germany, there are almost 35,000 members.
They are naked in everyday activities and in their hobbies – from volleyball to table tennis and saunas or swimming – often on their own grounds or campgrounds. And most of the clubs are in the west of Germany. Naturism/Free Body Culture has a long history pre-dating the division of Germany, so I would say that it is not a preserve of the former East German Communist State.
But, says DFK President Steffan the first associations for free-body culture were founded around 1900. During the period of national socialism they were dissolved.
He does accept that in the divided Germany, Naturism/Free Body Culture in the East was simply really free and lived everywhere. In the West it was banished to the Clubs and some islands and beaches. “In the present day, the DFK has few members in the East, because people say: Why should I join? I can do Naturism/Free Body Culture everywhere.”
For example in the Heidebad on the outskirts of Halle, Company Director Matthias Nobel calls the naked bathers his most loyal guests. “You can count on those because they come even when it rains.” One third of his bathers are Naturists.
The chairman of the association for Free Body Culture in Berlin- Southwest, Karin Siebert, however, notes decreasing interest – and greater caution. “People used to come naked, today they get dressed.”
Professor Weller sees legitimate reasons for this. There is a more sensitive approach to nudity, because of the omnipresent filming and photographing in modern society.
And what about where the GDR had its centre of Naturism/Free Body Culture; on the Baltic Sea?
I would have to agree with the reported comments of Katrin Hackbarth from the tourism association of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern “There are still many nudist beaches, eleven of them on Usedom, seven on Rügen and many others; There is also the fact that the people do not always pay attention to the FKK signs; On most beaches, there is a peaceful coexistence between the clothed and the naked”.
President Steffan. Also makes the same point “As long as no one is disturbed, you can go naked on unspoiled beaches and lakes.” The Hamburg Naktivists take this even further by promoting a ‘Free Range’ Naturism outside of the Clubs and have been successful in creating a Clothing Optional footpath open to all at any time at Underloh on the Luneburg Heath.
So it could be that it is organised Naturism that is under threat rather than people enjoying naked activities as and when they want.
The International Naturist Federation have been totally silent on this, they should have picked up this ball and run with it for all they are worth, by organising a press conference for the International Media. It is a golden opportunity to promote Naturism/Free Body Culture to a wider audience.