by, The Telegraph
A planned refugee shelter in Germany has provoked a storm of protest — over fears it could interfere with the pursuit of nudism.
The influx of more than 1m migrants has already divided Germany. But the latest row casts it as a threat to the very heart of German culture: the right to walk around in public in the nude.
Nudists at a club near the historic town of Meissen were incensed when they received new rules from the local authority suggesting they would not be allowed to swim naked in the local lake where they have been skinny-dipping for over a century.
The reason is a new refugee shelter being built on the other side of the lake to house 112 asylum-seekers. When the nudists first heard of the shelter, they requested a privacy screen from the local council.
Instead they received a set of notices in multiple languages, including Arabic, Farsi and Albanian, explaining German swimming etiquette for the benefit of asylum-seekers.
But to the horror of the nudists, rule number 9 clearly states “The use of the swimming facilities is only permitted with a swimming costume.”
The nudists saw that as an affront to the treasured German tradition of Freikörperkultur, or “free body culture”.
“We’ve been naked on this ground since 1905,” Petra Hoffmann, the treasurer of the club, which has around 400 members, told Bild newspaper.
“We refuse to display these rules. On our site we decide what goes.”
The German Swimming Society said the row was the result of a mix-up, and the local council had sent out a standard set of rules it prepared for public swimming pools.
“Rule 9 of our regulations is clearly not suitable for nudist bathing areas,” Joachim Heuser, a spokesman for the Swimming Society, said.
Local authorities have said they understand the nudists’ concerns but there was no other location available for the refugee shelter.
“We need the shelter. There is no other central facility for asylum-seekers in the entire county,” Helena Musal, a spokesman for the council, said.