Naturism in the German Democratic Republic (GDR)

In the GDR at the beginning of the 1950s, some artists and intellectuals began to bathe in the nude at Ahrenshoop at the Baltic Sea. Others joined in, so that the community of nude bathers grew rapidly – soon in other places along the Baltic coast.

After a few conflicts with textile wearers, the local government of Ahrenshoop banned nude bathing in 1954. This, in turn, caused fierce opposition from adherers of naturism, including numerous members of the SED ["Sozialistische Einheits-Partei Deutschland" [en: "Socialist Unity Party of Germany"], celebrities and persons engaged in the cultural sector.

The uprising of adherers of naturism was so fierce, that sometimes scolding textile wearers were forcibly stripped naked and tied to a tree! In addition, more and more frolic beach parties were celebrated in the nude, which in turn increased the conflict with textile wearers. Yet in 1954, the state government then imposed a ban on nude bathing at the entire Baltic coast, which was abolished in 1956 again due to protests and submissions.

As a result, more and more naturist areas Naturism at Schwieloch Lake were designated, almost every bathing lake or beach was divided into textile and nude area. And the residents in the GDR took advantage of the available options to bathe in the nude much more than in the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG). It is estimated, that about 70 % of the population had nude bathing experience in the 1970s and 80s – compared to always less than 30 % in the FRG. Also public nudity on other occasions, e.g. as when camping or in the garden, was widespread.

After the reunification of Germany, citizens of West Germany came to holiday centres at the Baltic Sea and expressed to be felt disturbed by the many nudes. But since they brought the money, the communities followed the demands of tourists from West Germany and disassembled more and more naturist areas, downsized them, or moved them to less attractive stretches of thee beaches. In 2015, the spread of naturists in the new federal states is on par with the old Länder.

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