Berlin 24/7: Naked in Berlin | Culture| Arts, music and lifestyle reporting from Germany | DW | 10.09.2017
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Berlin 24/7: Naked in Berlin

You can run into nudity everywhere in Berlin - from Lake Wannsee to the subway. Naked people are even streaking through the current election campaign, notes DW columnist Gero Schliess.

First of all, don't get carries away with any wild fantasies: Naked in Berlin does not necessarily imply sex. But don't let that keep you from reading. The boundary between nudity and sex is, after all, fluid - even in this column.


Let's view the topic from an intercultural perspective - if only to prevent a "cultural clash," as American historian Samuel Huntington once called it. 

Read more: Where to get naked in Germany

Topless ("oben ohne" in German) is a nice way to ease into things, right? That's the name of a festival that takes place in the heart of Berlin - to the cool summer sounds created by musicians from the British and Irish Modern Music Institute at the Sky Live Club high above the city.

 Tim Renner (SPD)

Berlin politician Tim Renner bared all for a campaign video

But it's such a fake: no one is "oben ohne" here. The only topless thing at the festival is awning-less the rooftop terrace.

However, I never would have dreamed that it would get to the point that even politicians in Berlin would teeter on the brink of credibility when it comes to "being naked." 

Naked election campaign

Tim Renner, Berlin's former state secretary for cultural affairs and now SPD candidate for the German parliament, the Bundestag, has bared all for his homeland.

Renner presents himself naked in a video - remarkable, considering his prudish electoral district of Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf. He said he's aiming to win over swing voters. But it comes across less as an avowal and more as a threat.

Berlin CSD 2017 (picture-alliance/Eventpress)

The Christopher Street Day parade is another place to find naked people in Berlin

And yet, other politicians are also swinging the naked punch as well. Sixty-nine-year old Left party veteran Gregor Gysi is championing the preservation of nudism culture, known in Germany as FKK, for Freikörperkultur or "free body culture." Hm. Berlin's B.Z. newspaper cuts to the chase using a play on Renner's name, which can also be German slang for "all the rage": "The naked election campaign: It's all the rage."

Merkel's power trick

But what will Chancellor Angela Merkel do if she gets wind of it as we near the end of the national election campaign? After all, we know Merkel and her tricks - like stealing the successful ideas of her political opponents and using them herself. That was the case with the nuclear power phase-out, and also with the minimum wage. And now…?

Read more: Nude photography pioneers Newton, Testino and Piggozi on show in Berlin

But let's change the scene and enjoy life without politics for a moment. Berlin is, after all, a real hot spot for true lovers of being naked. Like the subway passenger recently, who passed through the U4 and U1 trams without saying a word - or wearing a thing.

Nudist area at Wannsee Lake (picture-alliance/dpa/B. Pedersen)

Near Berlin, there are plenty of official and unofficial nudist areas

For those who prefer swimming in the nude rather than riding the subway in their birthday suit, however, you can check out websites such as for the best naked beaches at lakes around the capital city. From Lake Wannsee to Lake Helensee, there are plenty of option that are easily accessible by car or tram. 

Pornceptual and Berghain

But stripping down can also be taken to a whole new level, such as at the techno music club Berghain. You may suddenly find yourself dancing across from a well-built naked guy who has emerged from the middle of a throbbing mass of people.

Maybe these are all pleasant after-effects of former East Germany's FKK culture known. Or maybe they are the revenants of the wild and roaring 1920s.

At any rate, no other German city exists with as much nakedness in night life as in Berlin. It's a true El Dorado for lovers of bare flesh. Or should we say their Sodom and Gomorrah - which for some is a synonym for paradise.

Gero Schliess

Gero Schliess agrees that Berlin is the capital of freedom

That must be the case for those who stand after midnight in a mile-long line for a party called "Pornceptual." Their mantra is something along the lines of: Live out your physicality to the fullest.

But many Berliners don't need to be told that. They are immediately on the scene when skin is exposed and hot beats ring out. It's as though a conspiring community were meeting to perform a forbidden rite. Leather, fetish or even less. Everything goes.

"Berlin is the capital of freedom" is the motto of the city's new marketing campaign. The PR strategists don't know how right they are. 

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