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JULY 11 2007 18:12h

Nudism - Historical Development

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Nudism is characterized by collective nudity for the purpose of developing respect for oneself, others and the environment.

Organized nudism appeared for the first time in Germany under the name Freikörperkultur, which means “the culture of the free body,” at the beginning of the 20th century. At the time, the need emerged for a more natural lifestyle and a less strict way of dressing. Freilichtpark, the first famous nudist club, was opened near Hamburg in 1903. Soon afterwards, author Heinrich Ungewitter published the book “Nakedness,” a utopia about a life without clothes, completely in the nude. The book was a huge success and had several editions. The nudist movement soon spread across the entire Germany and new nudist clubs started opening in German towns. 

When Hitler came into power in 1933, those organizations were banned and became illegal.  

When the war ended, the idea emerged again and, this time, it happened in international proportions. After Germany, Croatia was one of the first countries where such a way of spending one’s summer vacations appeared. In the 1960s, nudist camps started emerging in Croatia because hosts wanted to attract as many German tourists as possible.  

As far as nudism spreading in the U.S. is concerned, the hippie movement played a huge role. One of hippies’ ideals was the return to nature, enjoying one another’s nakedness and the feeling of freedom from the conventions of dress. 

The development and spread of nudism 

In the 1980s and 1990s, the nudist movement garnered an increasing number of followers. Those who subscribed to such a style of enjoyment were people with strikingly different backgrounds and social and educational status. The phenomenon of Christian nudism even appeared, which also advocated the “Biblical” lifestyle without clothes. Under the pressure of the new tourist offer, even the exceptionally conservative countries had to budge, such as Italy, Greece and Spain, so special beaches and offer for nudists began to open there.

Today, nudism is considered to be a normal occurrence and the people who practice it are no longer looked on in amazement or as “morally depraved persons.”   

Roots in antiquity    

Before the appearance of the Jewish - Christian - Muslim concept of the shamefulness of the body and nudity, the whole world was in fact one huge nudist camp. Greeks and Romans only wore clothes on certain occasions. They practiced sports, bathed and did similar things in the nude. The human body was an object of adulation and worship, not something to be covered or ashamed of. 

The word “gymnasium” is derived from the word “gymnos,” meaning nude, because athletes in ancient Greece trained and competed without clothes. 

Consequently, we can consider nudists to be heirs of the ideas and customs of the ancient times, in the most positive sense. 

The philosophy of nudism  

Nudists believe that the naked human body ought to be accepted, respected, nurtured and enjoyed. Many of them enjoy sports and other “nude” activities that have nothing to do with sex. Nudists think that such a way of life and spending one’s vacation does not have any negative moral consequences. Nudity is a healthy, natural state of human beings in their purest form because, in the end, everyone is born naked.

Many nudists say that spending time without clothes among other people gives them a greater feeling of physical, intellectual and emotional acceptance. Without clothes, a person’s social status is unnoticeable, which eliminates the differences that are the result of different financial status.