The history of the naturism movement in Germany began towards the end of the 19th century with first impulses against the prudery of the Victorian and Wilhelminian epoch. Some of the active personalities involved in the development of naturism are going to be presented briefly here.
Heinrich Pudor (1865-1943) did a doctorate in 1889 about "Schopenhauer's metaphysics of music in his world as will and imagination". Only for a short time, he succeeded his father as head of the Royal Conservatory in Dresden, but resigned it after being exposed to vehement criticism because of "Deutschtümelei"*). He then founded a publishing house (Munich, Berlin, later Leipzig), in which he published exclusively his own works – predominantly lyric and devotional books, which contained the expositions of his "Lebensreform" [en: "reform of life]. In 1893 he moved to London, after Pudor's book "Nackende Menschen. Jauchzen der Zukunft" had been published in Dresden. This was the first important German-language book on naturism.
Richard Ungewitter (1869-1958) was a gardener and one of the early pioneers of the naturist movement. His first book, "The Nudity," was published in January 1906 under the full title "The nudity in the perspective of history of development, health, morale, and art" The authorities repeatedly tried to forbid the book, but the experts invited by the court pleaded in favor of Ungewitter, so that all prohibitions failed.
During the following years, Richard Ungewitter published other books, which he used to promote the naturist movement. The most famous of his works is probably the 1908 book "Nackt" [en: "Nude"], in which he responds to the critics of his book "The Nudity …". Also in 1908, Ungewitter founded the "Association for the culture of history of development, health, ethics, and aesthetics". This was the second association of naturists in Germany after an association founded in Essen in 1898. It won a size of about 50 members, mainly in southern Germany.
Later, Ungewitter openly turned to the nazi idea of "racial hygiene" and lost importance for the naturist movement. In his books "Nacktheit und Kultur" [en: "Nudity and Culture"] (1920) and "Nacktheit und Aufstieg" [en: "Nudity and Rise"] (1922), this thought was already taken up and mixed with the nude culture.
Adolf Koch (1896-1970) tried as a teacher to realise his reformerischen ideas of a "new education". This included placing the relationship between mind and body on a new basis. In his opinion, gymnastics were neglected due to monotonous gymnastics. Koch also spoke up dedicatedly for to the daily, not yet self-evident, body and tooth cleaning.
Koch's goal was the development of a modern general school of body and posture together with free, terpsichorean gymnastics. With special commitment, he developed special exercises for children. The joy as to movement, the ludic drive and the imaginative sense of the smaller children were incorporated. For the older children, he developed exercises, which were based, among other things, on gravity and momentum.
It was important to Koch, that boys and girls practiced together, because the children should also learn to respect the body of the opposite gender and learn that nudity per se is nothing sexual. In 1923, Koch completed his education as a teacher of gymnastics.
In 1924, he founded his "Institute and School for Naturism Adolf Koch", with whom he built thirteen gymnastics schools in Germany over the course of time. Apart from gymnastics, the program also included the application of showers with alternating temperature, sunlamp irradiation, medical examinations and supervision, talks as to all issues and further lessons.
He himself commented his program: "Fun and joy as to movement are always in the focus. Naturally, these laid-back gymnastics lessons can also be carried out outdoors."
Addendum by deacademic.com (in German): The successes of these schools were preceded by fierce battles. Several court cases were brought against him, none led to a conviction or to the closure of schools. The trials cost time and energy, but also made Koch known. The total ban by the National Socialists after 1933 struck him harder. His institutes were closed, also because he refused to sack his Jewish colleagues. His writings were on the list of „forbidden and un-German books“ and were publicly combusted during the burning of books in Berlin. Koch did not let himself be put off; he continued to work illegally, founded two new institutes one after the other under a different name, and helped many Jews and other Nazi persecutees. Officially he was called up during the war, among other things, as director for the sport of the wounded and the aftercare of the handicapped (Marquardt Castle near Berlin).
The Familien-Sport-Verein Adolf Koch e. V. in Berlin [en: Registered association for family sports Adolf Koch in Berlin, Germany] does exist to this day. From the foundation in 1951 until his death in 1970, Adolf Koch was chairman of the association.
*) The meaning of this word is similar to "German nationalim" [translated from www.canoo.net].
It designates a form of exaggerated appreciation / emphasis on everything considered to be German [translated from de.wiktionary.org].
Some so far unchecked attempts for translation are: "Teutomania" or "Germano-mania" [translated from www.linguee.com]