Berlin nudists feel the heat from prudish tourists
Nudists fear tradition dating to the 1920s is under threat from scandalised visitors
People cool off in the water at Berlin’s Wannsee lido as temperatures hit 40 degrees. Staff at the nudist area say they have full-time job demanding that visitors either shrug off their swimsuits or move elsewhere. Photograph: Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters
As temperatures tipped 40 degrees yesterday, Berliners’ thoughts turned to their three summer pleasures: cool beer, ice cream and public nudity.
Stumbling on a park full of sunbathing Adams and Eves, minus the fig leaves, is a coming-of-age moment for new Berliners. But now the German capital is attracting so many tourists that local nudists fear for the future of a tradition dating back to the 1920s and known here by the acronym FKK (for Freikörperkultur, meaning free body culture or naturism).
So is Berliners’ love of the all-over tan really falling victim to prudish visitors?
“There are ever-fewer people who swim naked,” Michael Oloew, head of Berlin’s municipal swimming pools, told the Berliner Kurier tabloid.
Falling demand has meant many pools have reduced nude bathing hours and sunbathing areas. One reason, says Mr Oloew, is the tension between FKK lovers and shocked tourists.
“For them,” he explained, “the sight of people in a state of undress is unusual or their religion even forbids it.”
Get it off or get out
It’s not just visitors who are putting the squeeze on Berlin’s nudists. At the Prinzenbad in the multicultural Kreuzberg neighbourhood, FKK sunbathers are annoyed at being ogled through the hedge by Turkish teenagers. Still, they insist they will continue to strip off.
“I don’t do classic FKK; I just like to lie in the sun to dry off,” said Horst Lehmann, a pool regular. “It’s more hygienic and healthy than lying there in sodden swimming trunks.”
Holidays in the nipGermany
A quarter of a century on, many western Germans have learned to let their hair and their clothes down. Bild reported yesterday – with copious pictures – on a mysterious woman with all-body tattoos and an “intimate piercing” who, once a week, has a drink on the terrace of a Hamburg fish restaurant.
The mystery nudist carries a red Louis Vuitton handbag, Bild said, and “always wears the same thing: nothing”.
In reply to a concerned call, police told Bild: “It’s not a punishable offence to go naked in public, on condition that there is no sexual carry-on.”