Fatter and fewer German nudists as numbers dwindle
By Erik Kirschbaum
BERLIN (Reuters) - The naked sunbathers who once crowded Germany's Baltic beaches and city parks are becoming an endangered species due to shifting demographics, the fall of the Berlin Wall, growing prosperity and widening girths.
Much to the chagrin of Free Body Culture (FKK) enthusiasts who have been stripping off their clothing on beaches and parks since the early 1900s, a cold wind has been blowing across Germany for nudists and their numbers are steadily dwindling.
"German society is changing and it's not easy to be a naturist anymore," said Kurt Fischer, president of the German FKK association (DFK). There are some 500,000 registered nudists and a total of seven million Germans sunbathe naked regularly.
"But the numbers are unfortunately falling by about two percent each year," Fischer told a group of reporters in the Foreign Press Association (VAP) while sitting, fully clothed, at a beach bar in Berlin's government quarter. "Times are tough."
The main problem is the shrinking population, Fischer said.
The number of Germans fell by more than 3.2 million over the last three decades even though the country's total population has managed to remain more or less steady at about 82 million thanks to immigration -- often from countries in Eastern Europe and the Balkans as well as Turkey and Arabic countries.
"Our problems are demographic changes and the fact that immigrants aren't interested in social nudity," said Fischer, 70, whose association has such honored standing in Germany that it is even part of the Olympic Sport Federation (DOSB).
"Germany is relying more and more on immigrants to keep the population steady. But many come from countries with strong religious beliefs. They just aren't into FKK." Immigrants who arrive from cultures where headscarves are common will not usually be interested in becoming naturists in Germany, he said. Continued...