I thought I would post this response I got from Wyrdsmyth to yesterday’s Hiking in the Buff post, as he lives in Germany and can therefore give a more balanced view on the topic. [And I'm not sure if everybody reads the comments]
Germany Calling …
I think it’s important to point out here that it’s not “the Germans” who are all hiking “au naturelle” but just a few nutty specimens!
Unfortunately, Heidi Klum (arguably one of Germany’s most famous exports and also arguably a bit nutty) only takes her kit off for lots of cash and a star photographer – and does not walk around the German geography showing off her contour lines.
Another point against wholesale cavorting in the hills without “ze lederhosen” is that the Teutonic weather – at least in high-lying regions – is often wet, cool and windy. So the article must be relegated to the “Interesting People” folder (see Monty Python) for filling up some magazine space in a hurry.
(Warning: gross over-simplication now follows)
Alright, having said that, I must come clean and report that Germany does have quite a tradition of public nudity. There are photos from the Nazi era of lightly clothed (or not) and athletic people doing sport and generally getting fit for the Fatherland.
After the war, West Germans got down to the serious business of rebuilding the country and working hard. Kind of emulating the American Dream: straight ahead, a bit straight-laced and rather laced up. Yes, there was “permissiveness” in print and deed, and there were some nudist camps, but most people thought they were weird.
Post-war Eastern Germany had more of a history of public nudity (i.e. during the Communist-Socialist period), but this was mainly done on the beach etc. in summer (no ticks, no mosquitoes, no goose pimples …) and – I am told – as a kind of joyous revolt against political über-control. So even today, as a kind of tradition, many beaches along the Baltic coast (much more than in the Western part of the country) have FKK sections (Freikörperkultur, literally “free-body culture”, i.e. naturism) where you are allowed, nay, encouraged to drop your shorts and get down to the nitty-gritty. Whole families bask in the sun and there are also good-looking people to be seen. Also female. Also playing beach volleyball. All good clean fun. ‘Strue …