East Germany′s Fascination with Flesh Gets More Exposure | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 28.03.2008
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East Germany's Fascination with Flesh Gets More Exposure

A new book detailing East Germany's passion for nudity is set to be launched in typically candid style just weeks after a documentary exposed the communist regime's secret porn industry.

People in historic swimming costumes at a Baltic Sea beach in Germany

Who'd go naked if one can dress to swim like this?

If selling a book with the recollections -- and photographs -- of nudist holidaymakers in East Germany wasn't enough to cause a stir, bookshop owner Helmut Maass intends to capitalize on the flesh angle of the new tome by promoting it with a reading to a naked audience.

The book, which celebrates East Germany's renowned "Freikoerperkultur" [FKK], draws on the era before the Berlin Wall came down in 1989. Its publishers, Berlin-based Eulenspiegel, are enthusiastic about the publicity stunt.

"This is great advertising for our book," a spokeswoman said.

The book's author, Thomas Kupfermann, contacted devotees and asked them to send him their photographs and also secured a contribution from East German television reporter Hans-Joachim Woller, who covered the FKK scene before 1989.

The event, set to take place in the north-eastern town of Pasewalk and hosted by the nude female model who adorns its cover, is scheduled for April 1, but it's no joke, Maass said.

Book event the latest in FKK revival

The shop owner believes he is putting on a world first with his nudist book reading, which is sold out. He has invited his audience to arrive clothed, as Germany is experiencing a chilly spring, and assures them his shop is adequately heated. He is also providing heavy drapes for the windows to keep passing voyeurs at bay.

East Germany's FKK movement is generally experiencing something of a revival.

Bathers at the nudist beach at Prerow, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern

Nudist resorts and interest in the lifestyle are on the up

A travel agent in the eastern city of Erfurt has laid on nudist charter flights this summer to Usedom, a Baltic island resort and home to a large nudist colony in the communist era.

Enrico Hess says tickets are selling rapidly for the first flight on July 5. He has had applications from as far afield as Australia.

The FKK movement dates its origins to the founding of the first nudist society in Berlin in 1906. While the movement faded in the western states, it flourished in the communist east, with bathing resorts established all along the Baltic coast and at the inland lakes frequented by East German holidaymakers.

The FKK movement was just one of the communist country's many contradictions regarding nudity.

Despite the atmosphere of public prudery that prevailed in East Germany before the fall of the Berlin Wall, the GDR was a hot-bed of nudism and naked bathing, both of which were permitted by the communist regime.

Secret but sanctioned porn industry exposed

While the regime banned Western sex films and confiscated erotic films and magazines brought into the country by visitors, it has recently been revealed that the GDR's armed forces had their own pornography department, which made movies for senior officers and the country's outwardly prudish hard-line political elite.

A German police officer chase two naked anti G8 protestors in 2007

Could the so-called "Stasi Porn" have looked like this?

The former communist state's secret porn industry has recently been the subject of a documentary shown on German television. The show revealed that the GDR's pornography department was operated by a 160-man film unit which used a secret circle of 12 amateur porn enthusiasts as its stars.

The documentary explained that the unit was set up in 1982 and managed to make a total of 12 erotic films before the collapse of communism in 1989.

Officially the films were all made in secret but eye-witness accounts claimed that they were produced under direction from senior officers and their premieres were attended by many of the state's most high-ranking officials and politicians.

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