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There was also, of course, an official socialist institution with a long, uninspiring name.
Even German Chancellor Angela Merkel was said to have practiced nudism during her youth in the GDR -- although it's not been confirmed whether recently unearthed photos purporting to show her swimming and walking naked with friends are the real deal.
The Nazi era brought mixed fortunes for nudism, its ongoing popularity tempered by a moral clampdown.Germany's passion for clotheslessness finds its origins in late-19th-century health drives when stripping off was seen as part of a route to fitness and sunbathing a possible cure for TB and rheumatism.In 1920, while the rest of Europe was still getting feverish over the sight an exposed ankle, Germany established its first nude beach on the island of Sylt.Even as the country was being split asunder in 1949, some in the West were busy founding the Association for Free Body Culture -- an organization that today is part of the German Olympic Sport Federation and the largest member of the International Naturist Federation.Nudism was particularly popular in East Germany, or German Democratic Republic as it was known.
The heartland of public nakedness also still has a plethora of designated FKK beaches and nudist zones in public parks and on beaches.