German FKK Culture: Past and Present

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Want to know a little more about German FKK culture?

Germany is well known for embracing (and pioneering) the naturist movement in Europe and the country has more than 140 nudist clubs that operate from both rural and urban zones.

Taking part in everything from nude sunbathing to naked skateboarding, the freedom and right to be without clothes in public is protected in law. However, the FKK movement has also become synonymous with large sauna clubs that offer sexual services from a line-up of freelance prostitutes…

You don’t want to get the two confused – which is why we’ve put together some information to help you navigate the culture of FKK!

In this German FKK Culture Guide, we explore the beginnings of the FKK movement in Germany, including a look at the history and founding of this important cultural belief.

We also chart the evolution of FKK sex clubs vs FKK naturism groups, as well as some useful hints and tips about both kinds of FKK activities in Germany.

What Is FKK?

FKK, or Freikörperkultur, is a German word meaning ‘Free Body Culture’ and is an equivalent of naturism or nudism. It refers to a movement that is believed to have originated in Germany in the late 19th century.

At its roots, FKK has no association with sexuality and is not strictly related to nudity; for instance, nudity in the shower or sauna is not FKK as this is deemed a necessity and not a choice.

The FKK movement is based around the assertion that there is no (and should not be any) shame about the naked body.


The Origins of German FKK Culture

Nudity has historically been accepted in many European countries, particularly in Scandinavia where communal bathing in the nude has always been part of the culture.

This was also true of many central European countries where people would wash naked in lakes and rivers. By the middle of the 18th century however, there was an increasingly more conservative attitude towards public nudity.

Founded in 1898, the first FKK club was located in Essen in the far west of Germany with the first nudist beach being opened on the North Sea island of Sylt, 23 years later.

The proximity of Sylt to Sweden is not a coincidence and Swedish saunas were very popular during this period in the east of the country and in the north.

history of FKK culture germany
Freisonnland Nudist camp, Motzenmuhle Berlin 1930s. Image via Wikimedia.

Considered one of the early pioneers of  the German FKK movement was Richard Ungewitter who wrote and (widely) published several bodies of work including booklets such as People Naked Again (1903), Nudity (1906) and Naked (1908.

In 1908, he also founded the Organization for hygienic, ethical and aesthetic culture (Vereinigung für hygienische, ethische und ästhetische Kultur) which was Germany’s second FKK club. Members were given guidance on how to enjoy nudity without being disturbed and also advocated nude hiking.

In the lead up to the Second World War and as the Nazi political party gained more control in Germany, nudist associations and public nudity were either banned or integrated into Far-Right organisations. This crack down began as early as 1933 and continued until the middle of the war.

However, by 1942 rules were relaxed in more rural and remote areas of Germany and nude swimming was permitted.

It wasn’t until after the war that the modern German Association for Free Body Culture (DFK or Deutscher Verband für Freikörperkultur) was established. Founded in Hanover in 1949, the DFK is now the largest member of the INF (International Naturist Federation).

Around this time, naturism was beginning to become more popular in other parts of Europe and by 1950, the first naturist holiday resorts were being opened elsewhere on the continent (notably in Aquitaine, France).

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A common sight still on FKK beaches around Germany. Image via Wikimedia.

The trend towards more open attitudes of public nudity has continued across Europe in the latter part of the 20th century and you can find nudist beaches, resorts and camping facilities in many other countries including Greece, Spain, Italy and Croatia.

It is worth noting that the FKK movement (as a naturist approach) is more prominent in the east of Germany where the socialist aspect (freedom and equality) was particularly meaningful under soviet occupation.

In modern Germany, though it is estimated that between 8 and 12 million Germans engage in nudism, membership of FKK organisations is falling. There are still 145 German FKK groups but the age of members is generally between 50 and 60 years old with the under 25s becoming rarer in the movement.

In a recent comparative study between naturism in France and in Germany, the French geographer Emmanuel Jaurand concluded that Germany remains committed to “urban public nudity that is uninhibited and quiet” and “detached from any sexual connotation”.

Which brings us on to the next topic…..

Modern FKK Culture in Germany

Although the FKK culture in Germany is based on the naturist approach and does not have anything to do with sex or sexuality, it is not surprising that there are aspects of this movement that do embrace the opportunity of naked bodies for the purposes of a gang bang, or at least some erotic play.

There are therefore two very distinct types of FKK clubs and venues in operation throughout Germany; those that celebrate naturism and those that celebrate nudity and sex. Obviously, it’s very important you get the right kind of club.

German FKK Sex Clubs (Sauna Clubs)

Most of the clubs in Germany that advertise themselves as being FKK are in fact sauna clubs where guests can get naked (some do allow robes or towels) and enjoy the spa facilities.

However, the added extra in these venues is that they are populated by freelance prostitutes whose services can be hired in private rooms.

Basically, these kind of clubs are brothels with a spa.

See more: Our guide to FKK sauna sex clubs and our complete list of the best FKK clubs in Germany.

fkk sauna club germany
Image via FKK World (Sauna Club). The venue is reviewed here.

The atmosphere at these clubs is way more erotic than a naturist club and they are very popular with single men and couples.

You don’t have to pay for sex to enjoy the atmosphere here and, as a couple or a singleton, you can enjoy the facilities and sights at leisure without getting a full service.

Some FKK clubs offer an all-inclusive admission fee which allows you to have as much sex as you want whilst others simply charge you for entry and any extras are paid for directly with your service provider.

As well as spa and sauna facilities, many of the larger FKK clubs (like Artemis) also offer adult cinemas, erotic massage services and even some areas where group play is acceptable. Depending on the club, you might also find outdoor areas including pools, BBQ, beach volleyball courts and saunas.

If you are looking for an FKK sauna club that has an erotic approach to nudism then you can find, literally, hundreds; from small and intimate spas with just a few ladies to mega clubs that cover upwards of 50,000 sq ft and employ dozens of prostitutes.

FKK Beaches and FKK Naturist Clubs

The FKK movement is prominent in seaside resorts and a lot of public beaches have designated areas for nudist sunbathing and activities (hiking, volleyball etc.). These are usually marked with clearly visible signage and do not relate to sex.

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Public FKK zones are clearly indicated. Image via Flickr.

You can also find FKK zones in some urban areas such as public parks such as those in Berlin and Munich. Camping facilities in rural areas are also more likely to have FKK zones.

Fundamentally, if you are looking for a venue that is for naturists rather than a sauna club then look for DFK rather than FKK.

Tips for Embracing the FKK Scene in Germany

Nudity for some Europeans, particularly the Brits, is an unfamiliar concept and can make some people feel a little uncomfortable.

We thought we’d put together a little guide on what to expect from Germany’s FKK scene and some important dos and donts.

Do your research before visiting an FKK venue

Firstly, whilst the majority of Germans support the right to be nude in public (72% of people polled in 2016 for Expedia said it was fine to be nude on a beach) and at least a quarter of them having done so, the term FKK means two very distinct things; naturism and swinging.

So, our first tip is to make sure that when you visit an FKK club or FKK beach, resort or hotel always make sure that you know what kind of venue you are attending.

Do your research beforehand and, if you want to hit an FKK club where sex is on the menu, you can find details in our city guides.

There are a lot of FKK saunas in Germany which operate as sex clubs where freelance prostitutes operate. It’s perfectly legal and a popular way to get a service but can shock some people who have not done their research.

Just be aware that FKK doesn’t always mean sex!

Don’t wear anything in the sauna

Sex club or not, more than half of Germans polled in a recent survey supported the view that saunas should have rules making it compulsory for all guests to be naked, whether they are mixed or same-sex venues.

The majority believe that it is unhygienic to wear clothing in a sauna and a lot of saunas do already enforce no-clothes policies.

You should also not be surprised if some saunas do not even supply towels.

fkk saunas germany
Nudity in German saunas is not mandatory but is expected. Image via Wikimedia.

Don’t be surprised by mixed-sex changing rooms

A lot of spas and saunas have changing areas for men and women where both will get naked quite happily together. Again, these may not be the kind of FKK clubs where sex is on the menu.

Be polite

It is rude to stare under any circumstances but when someone is naked it is doubly so. Nude friendly venues and locations that are designated with FKK signs can sometimes attract people who just want to look….the curious and the voyeuristic…but openly staring, being judgemental or even acting shocked and shielding your eyes is not polite.

Germans aren’t afraid to be direct about their response to this kind of behaviour, particularly if you are not a local, and you may be asked to leave or simply get an earful.

Photographs and mobile phone cameras are also likely to land you in hot water.

Public nudity is fine, public sex isn’t

Getting your kit off publicly in Germany is a protected right in many places but this does not mean that you can have sex al fresco without their being consequences. Doing so can land you with a large fine and will certainly get you in trouble with  the police.

Wear sunblock

If you are going to embrace public nudity and get your kit off on the beach then please make sure you wear sunscreen. Often, your underexposed sensitive areas can be more prone to sunburn than other parts of the body, such as the arms and legs. This is particularly true for Western Europeans with fair skin and certainly if this is the first time they have seen the sun!

tips on fkk culture germany
Always protect your sensitive skin from the sun, particularly when nude. Image via Flickr.

Embrace the culture

Lastly, if you are going to experience the FKK ethos in Germany then do so in style and really feel what it is like to be naked in public.

There are some famous parts of the country that you can explore in the buff including some popular hiking trails like the one in Saxony-Anhalt (Harz mountain region).

You can also find FKK zones in places like the Tiergarten in Berlin, the English Garden in Munich plus plenty of nude beaches in the east as well as on the Baltic islands. To get back to the roots of the FKK movement, head to Sylt where the first nudist beach was opened in the 1920s.

Featured image via Wikimedia.