Sonnenfreunde: A Magazine for Naturist Families
Sonnenfreunde (German for "sun friends") was a magazine that focused on the naturist lifestyle of families and children. It was published in Germany from 1951 to 1997, and featured numerous photos of naked children and teenagers, as well as texts about the benefits and joys of naturism. The magazine was part of the broader FKK (Freikörperkultur, or "free body culture") movement that advocated for social nudity and a natural way of living.
The History of Sonnenfreunde
The magazine was founded by Kurt Fischer, a former teacher and journalist who was also a prominent leader of the German naturist movement. Fischer had been involved in naturism since the 1920s, and had published several books and articles on the topic. He also founded the Sonnenbund, a naturist organization that operated several camps and resorts in Germany and abroad. Fischer believed that naturism was a way to promote health, happiness, and harmony among people, especially children. He saw naturism as a form of education and social reform that could counteract the negative effects of industrialization, urbanization, and war.
Fischer launched Sonnenfreunde in 1951 as a monthly magazine that aimed to inform and inspire naturist families. The magazine featured photos of naked children and teenagers playing, swimming, hiking, camping, and doing various activities in natural settings. The photos were accompanied by texts that explained the principles and practices of naturism, as well as stories, poems, interviews, reports, and tips. The magazine also covered topics such as health, nutrition, hygiene, psychology, art, culture, history, and philosophy from a naturist perspective. The magazine claimed to have a pedagogical and artistic value, and to respect the dignity and privacy of its models.
The Controversy over Sonnenfreunde
Despite its popularity among naturists, Sonnenfreunde also faced criticism and controversy from various quarters. Some people accused the magazine of being pornographic, exploitative, or abusive towards children. Some authorities tried to ban or censor the magazine on moral or legal grounds. Some naturists themselves questioned the appropriateness or necessity of publishing photos of naked children in a public medium.
The magazine defended itself by arguing that its photos were innocent, natural, and artistic expressions of the naturist lifestyle. It claimed that its photos did not sexualize or objectify children, but rather celebrated their beauty and freedom. It also asserted that its photos did not harm or endanger children, but rather protected them from shame, fear, and ignorance. It maintained that its photos were educational and inspirational for both children and adults who wanted to embrace naturism.
The debate over Sonnenfreunde reflected the changing social and legal norms regarding nudity, sexuality, and childhood in Germany and elsewhere. The magazine was influenced by and contributed to the cultural movements of the 1960s and 1970s that challenged the traditional values and taboos of the post-war society. The magazine also faced the challenges and risks posed by the emergence of new technologies and media that enabled the production, distribution, and consumption of images on a global scale.
The End of Sonnenfreunde
The magazine ceased publication in 1997 after 46 years of existence. The reasons for its closure were not officially announced, but they were likely related to the declining interest in naturism among younger generations, the increasing competition from other media outlets, and the growing pressure from legal authorities and public opinion. The magazine's archive was donated to the German Museum for Photography in Braunschweig, where it is preserved as a historical document of the German naturist movement.
Today, Sonnenfreunde is regarded as a controversial but significant part of the cultural history of Germany and Europe. The magazine's photos have been exhibited in several museums and galleries , where they have provoked mixed reactions from viewers. Some see them as artistic expressions of a utopian vision of human nature; others see them as disturbing evidence of a misguided ideology or a hidden agenda. The magazine's legacy remains open to interpretation and debate.
: [Sonnenfreunde Archive at German Museum for Photography]
: [Sonnenfreunde Exhibition at Museum Folkwang]
: [Sonnenfreunde Exhibition at C/O Berlin]