Naked cyclist caught by speed camera in Germany

The man wore only shoes as he rode faster than the speed limit for cars towards downtown Kiel on a Saturday night. Police have not been able to identify the man to hand him a fine.

Police in the northern German city of Kiel said on Saturday that they were struck by one of their strangest traffic violations yet: a naked man, cycling at an impressive 47 kilometers per hour (29 miles per hour) in a 30 zone.

Wearing only shoes, the man was caught by a speed camera at about 11:30 pm local time, heading in the direction of downtown Kiel on the evening of July 21, a Saturday.

The incident came as Germany is dealing with an unprecedented heat wave.

Luckily, as the local Kieler Nachtrichten noted, the man is not going to have to pay his speeding ticket — as his identity remains unknown.

Naked facts: Germany's nudism movement

A 'free body': Germany's nudist culture

It's a part of German culture, just like techno music and "Spargelzeit," the asparagus season. Even though the practice of Freikörperkultur (FKK), which translates as "free body culture," is dwindling among the younger generations of Germans, you'll still find lots of FKK areas on beaches as well as nude culture enthusiasts in spas — and even parks.

Naked facts: Germany's nudism movement

The healthy hobby

By the late 19th century, many Germans believed it was healthy to strip off and bathe "textile free" at one of the country's many lakes. At the time there was a move away from polluted industrialized cities to nature in pursuit of good health. Some people also enjoyed hiking or doing exercise in the nude. This picture dates back to 1933 and shows two women at Lake Chiemsee in Bavaria.

Naked facts: Germany's nudism movement

A culture promoted in film

Increasing health through free movement in nature was an ethos featured in the 1925 film Wege zu Kraft und Schönheit (Ways to Strength and Beauty). Starring controversial German actor and filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl, it was one of the country's most popular educational films of the silent era. It contained scenes of physical exercise such as dance and bathing.

Naked facts: Germany's nudism movement

FKK and the Nazis

Leni Riefenstahl later became Hitler's favorite filmmaker, and glorified the Aryan athletic physique in her two-part film Olympia, based on the 1936 Olympic Games held in Berlin. While the Nazis initially banned FKK, nude swimming was once again allowed in 1942, if done discreetly in remote areas. Many promoters of the FKK movement were however leftists.

Naked facts: Germany's nudism movement

A strong tradition in the former GDR

While FKK in the GDR was initially promoted by avant-gardists in the 1950s, it became widespread and tolerated by the 70s. As life in the GDR was so tightly controlled in other ways, bathing nude could be seen as a rare liberty — and people made full use of it. In this picture from 1986, dozens of nudists bask in the sun at Müggelsee, a lake in the suburbs of East Berlin.

Naked facts: Germany's nudism movement

FKK on the Baltic coast

FKK was also particularly strong on Baltic Sea beaches. However, the practice didn't spread to the Polish side of the coast. After Poland joined the EU, it became easier to walk from one country to the other's beach, but nudism was a cause of tensions between the localities on both sides of the German-Polish border.

Naked facts: Germany's nudism movement

Getting into the FKK spirit

At this beach in Leipzig in 1980, nudists hang out together on a hot day. The FKK spirit is about celebrating the body and being free from clothes. According to FKK enthusiasts, the practice is not connected to sex; it's about freeing yourself from social constraints. And it's certainly one way to make sure that you don't get any pesky tan lines from wearing a swimsuit.

Naked facts: Germany's nudism movement

Not only in the east: Munich's designated spots

While public nudity is generally forbidden Munich, there are various specific areas where FKK is allowed, for example in the English Garden and along the Isar River, including the Flaucher beach area, a popular destination for nudists, as this picture on a hot day from 2002 shows. FKK areas usually have a clear sign, and people chilling there do not want to be seen as a tourist attraction.

Naked facts: Germany's nudism movement

Berlin's park life

The practice is not as strong as it used to be, but some parks still have a certain FKK tradition — so you might come across more flesh than you were expecting on an afternoon walk. While public nudity is illegal, sunbathing naked is tolerated in different Berlin parks, such as the Mauerpark, Volkspark Friedrichshain (picture, from 1999) and Tiergarten — as long as it's not disturbing anyone.

Naked facts: Germany's nudism movement

A passion for millions of Germans

Angela Merkel was famously taking a sauna the night the Berlin Wall came down; it was her Thursday ritual. Figures show that around 30 million people in Germany visit the country's 2,300 saunas regularly. The majority of spas are open to both genders and require users to be textile-free. Remember: these public saunas are different to so-called FKK saunas or clubs, which are used as brothels.

Naked facts: Germany's nudism movement

Bare all in the wild

It may not be for everyone, but if you really want to get in touch with nature you could try going for a hike — au naturel. Deep in Germany's Harz mountain region is where you'll find an 18 kilometer naked hiking route. Stretching from the town of Dankerode to the Wippertal reservoir and back, the route welcomes FKK aficionados. Just watch out for nettles!

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