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The Beautiful German Evolution: From Nazis To Nudists

Britons and Americans used to depict Germans as obsessed with Nazi uniforms, now our supposed obsession is nudism. A friendly patriotic ode to letting it all hang out.

A German nudist beach
A German nudist beach
Brenda Strohmaier

BERLIN — Anglo-Saxons have discovered something about Germans known as the “FKK thrill.” FKK stands for Freikörperkultur, or nudist culture.

But things are not always what they seem. For example, in a recent New York Timespiece, an American who described himself as something of a prude wrote about having mustered the courage to go to a Berlin bathhouse. Eager to be culturally proper with the naked-loving Germans, he, his wife and a friend of hers draped towels around their nude selves, just for the trip from the changing rooms to the thermal pool. Just as the three of them, buck naked, slid into the warm salt water, they noticed that all the other people in the pool were wearing their bathing suits.

These days, English-language coverage of Germany often depicts German saunas and parks as naturist compounds of aesthetic oversharing. Until a relatively short time ago, there was a different stereotype applied to Germans: They tended to be in uniform. And not in a flattering way. But somehow all those Fritz and Blitz articles were more respectful than this current spate of writing.

Remember London Mayor Boris Johnson’s trip to Berlin last summer? In a column in The Telegraph, he reported afterwards with praise and fascination about “frenzied Teutonic relaxation” in Berlin. “The most serious public order problem at the moment is the tendency of Berliners to pursue the logic of their Freikörpeskultursic by actually fornicating in their many magnificent parks,” he wrote. His grandfather had warned him about Germans and the nation’s insatiable thirst for supremacy, which reunification would only fuel. But in the younger Johnson’s mind, reunification has done Germany a world of good, and there is absolutely nothing to fear from us Germans.

Pssst, here’s the truth

But Boris Johnson wasn’t seeing things right. We German nudists communicate in more subtle ways than the exhibitionist protest group FEMEN’s ladies. Our agenda is written on our breasts in invisible ink. And if you knew how to read it you’d find out about things like the new dress standards for all EU holiday areas: mandatory FKK for one and all!

[rebelmouse-image 27087936 alt="""" original_size="376x500" expand=1]

Photo: Pascal Willuhn

Do the Brits know what German Chancellor Angela Merkel was doing the day the Berlin Wall fell? Exactly! Relaxing in the sauna. Now is the time when Brits and other EU peoples should be overcome by fear. Yes, we Germans have stripped out of our uniforms. Because in times of asymmetrical war, uniforms are out.

The next EU conflict? Naked terror.

The kids are on the right path. Recently a friend of mine was driving through a deserted part of Brandenburg with her four children when they saw something so unlikely that the excited kids each described it piecemeal to their dad like this: Child 1: “We saw a man.” Child 2: “On a bicycle.” Child 3: “And he was.” Child 4: “Naked.” The children thought that biking through life naked was a pretty cool idea.

I recently trained for the nude toppling of the EU in a Hungarian hotel sauna. At reception, they told me to wear a bathing suit, but when I found myself alone in the sauna I got naked like any good German. No doubt about it: One look at my secret weapons and the term “sex bomb” will have to be redefined.

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Shame On The García Márquez Heirs — Cashing In On The "Scraps" Of A Legend

A decision to publish a sketchy manuscript as a posthumous novel by the late Gabriel García Márquez would have horrified Colombia's Nobel laureate, given his painstaking devotion to the precision of the written word.

Photo of a window with a sticker of the face of Gabriel Garcia Marquez with butterfly notes at Guadalajara's International Book Fair.

Poster of Gabriel Garcia Marquez at Guadalajara's International Book Fair.

Juan David Torres Duarte


BOGOTÁ — When a writer dies, there are several ways of administering the literary estate, depending on the ambitions of the heirs. One is to exercise a millimetric check on any use or edition of the author's works, in the manner of James Joyce's nephew, Stephen, who inherited his literary rights. He refused to let even academic papers quote from Joyce's landmark novel, Ulysses.

Or, you continue to publish the works, making small additions to their corpus, as with Italo Calvino, Samuel Beckett and Clarice Lispector, or none at all, which will probably happen with Milan Kundera and Cormac McCarthy.

Another way is to seek out every scrap of paper the author left and every little word that was jotted down — on a piece of cloth, say — and drip-feed them to publishers every two to three years with great pomp and publicity, to revive the writer's renown.

This has happened with the Argentine Julio Cortázar (who seems to have sold more books dead than alive), the French author Albert Camus (now with 200 volumes of personal and unfinished works) and with the Chilean author Roberto Bolaño. The latter's posthumous oeuvre is so abundant I am starting to wonder if his heirs haven't hired a ghost writer — typing and smoking away in some bedsit in Barcelona — to churn out "newly discovered" works.

Which group, I wonder, will our late, great novelist Gabriel García Márquez fit into?

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