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Nudism, health, and modernity: the natural cure as proposed by the German physical culture movement 1900-1914.

To overcome degeneration the German Regeneration-Physical Culture movement called for a revival of the body in an over-intellectual German Kultur. Programs of "rational self-cultivation" and exposure of the body to fresh air and sunlight would effect a return to health and the resurrection of a long-dormant Germanic racial type. Essentially a program of positive, non-coercive racial hygiene, the movement emphasized strength and beauty as the qualities sought in regenerate Germans.


By the end of the nineteenth century the suspicion permeated Western culture that changes wrought by a century of rapid social, scientific, and economic progress might, when fully assessed, turn out to be less of a blessing than a curse. It was feared that Western civilization had embarked upon a course of accelerating decline instead of the once confidently expected steady ascent to perfection. The term used to describe this alarming reversal was "degeneration," a diagnostic label that seemed as appropriate for the condition of individuals as it was for the more widespread social and cultural malaise.

Degeneration was a complex and vague term that resisted all nineteenth-century attempts to attach to it a single definition. It cannot be clearly identified with any single ideological or political position, (1) bur it is a term loaded with moral and religious implications. The Latin root degenerare denotes a fall from ancestral or original quality, while the primary theological association has been with the Christian doctrine of the fall from grace and God's punishment of Man's disobedience by rendering him subject to disease and death.

In the mid-nineteenth century the concept of degeneracy was popularized by French psychiatrist Benedict August Morel whose work formed the foundation of late nineteenth- to early twentieth-century degeneration theory. (2) Morel understood degeneracy to be a hereditary affliction in which the degenerate strain would exhaust itself after three or four generations. A typical progression might be: First generation, alcoholism; second generation, hysteria; third generation, idiocy; fourth generation, sterility. The belief that with each generation the inherited disability became greater was an emotionally powerful one. In the light of its direct assault upon the power to reproduce, it was feared that degeneration could pose a real threat to the existence of nations within a few generations.

The call for "regeneration" arose as a rallying-cry in response. This article will examine the German Regeneration movement, founded in Berlin in the last decade of the nineteenth century by Alfred Damm, a physician from Wiesbaden, and the broader Korperkultur [physical culture] movement that, at the turn of the century, incorporated and expanded Damm's original initiative. (3) The goal of both movements was to achieve regeneration on a national scale through a physical renaissance aimed at re-establishing the equality of body and mind lost in a "onesidedly intellectual" German Kultur. (4) Damm maintained a rigid focus upon sexual behavior in the etiology of degeneration. He saw "unnatural sensuality" (all sexual activity exclusive of reproduction) as the root cause of individual degeneration, and indeed the key to the rise and fall of civilizations throughout history. The Korperkulturists, while agreeing that regeneration required the revival of a healthy sexual ethic, tended to see this as one of many important considerations, rather than as the single decisive factor upon which regeneration hinged. (5)

Strength and beauty were in fact the primary qualities championed by the Korperkultur movement, particularly as these were found expressed in a long-dormant Germanic racial ideal. The resurrection of the body from its entombment in an over-cerebral German Kultur became to a large extent the resurrection of this "original" Germanic type as construed by racial thinkers and historians. The regenerate German would fuse the mythical racial identity with a contemporary identity constructed by the modern science of health. There was a messianic belief that the "new Germany" would then go on to fulfill its destiny of saving the civilized world from degeneration, and assume its "rightful position" at the head of nations. (6)

The Korperkultur Movement

Under the banner of "Back to Nature!" ["Zuruck zur Natur!"], the Korperkultur [physical culture] movement promoted an ideology of health whose diverse components included--alongside strength and beauty--hygiene, aesthetics, (7) healthy sexuality, nudism [Nacktkultur], physical education, sports, gymnastics, and the production of robust (particularly middle-class) children. These ideas circulated in a variety of popular journals dedicated to the field itself, popular medical, gymnastics, and sports journals, and the literature of the teaching profession. Their scope was comprehensive. While each journal had its own emphasis, they tended to reach into every conceivable area of life. Illustrative of this is the title How Shall We Live?: For the Furtherance of Health and Well being in Nation and Home [Wie Sollen Wir Leben?: Zur Forderung von Gesundheit und Wohlstand in Volk und Haus], (Langensalza, 1902). Similarly, the content of Kraft und Schonheit [Strength and Beauty] (Berlin 1901-1927), the movement's most influential journal, ranged from clothing to nudism, hygiene to history, homemaking to military training, sexuality to nutrition, as well as exercise, sports, gymnastics, and dance. The journals recommended practical means to achieve health, strength, and beauty, and inculcated a sense of duty to the self, family, and Volk. Such ideals, and their counter-images of infection, disease, immorality, and degeneration, gained added momentum from the support of science and from the practical experience Korperkultur adherents gained by implementing scientific knowledge in daily life. When combined with organic metaphors of nation and race, and a moderately militant nationalism, the whole had the potential to become a belief system of beguiling strength and consistency.

Circulation figures for particular journals are not available, bur two factors argue in favor of the literature's significance: The first is that the 1890S saw a dramatic increase in the number of books, periodicals, and newspapers published for a rapidly growing reading public. (8) In this era of mass literacy the attention of well-educated readers was drawn towards reading material that helped bridge the gap between their own understanding and the increasingly complex world of science. Nonfiction books and periodicals, particularly those dedicated to popular science, began to enjoy wide circulation as a means to both self-education and diversion. The journals studied here all (except the education journals) belonged to the popular, nontechnical category but were nonetheless intended for a highly sophisticated readership, that social group (the Bildungsburgertum) that often served as role models for others wishing to improve themselves and their position in society. Secondly: The ideas that the journals translated into programs for action already enjoyed widespread influence in German society. Sports, gymnastics, (9) the practice of hygiene, and the quest for health were pursued on a mass scale in the first quarter of the twentieth century. The Korperkultur movement merely brought these currents together, acting as a catalyst and locus for action, and providing an urgent rationale--the halting of degeneration--for that action. Although it was not of itself a mass movement, Korperkultur certainly occupied a central position in the marketplace of ideas circulating in Germany at this time.

The Return to Nature


An essential requirement of regeneration was that individuals break free from the unnatural influences and materialistic constraints of modern urban-industrial society, and reforge their vital connection to the regenerative powers of "Nature." Within a more natural framework the three basic goals of the Korperkultur program--strength, beauty, and through them, the revival of the racial type, could be pursued. The call for a return to Nature was not one of renunciation: Korperkulturists did not wish to "drop out" of modern society, bur rather to adapt and gain the strength required to be able to survive and succeed within it.

In January 1908 Volkskraft (10) carried several articles on the nervous system, strength, and suicide, all of which focused on the change from a traditional rural, to a modern urban way of life and the unprecedented strain this placed upon the nervous system and lungs. (11) Like the lungs, understood to be dispatchers of power to the body, the nervous system played an essential role in the body's functioning. Intimately connected with all muscles and organs, the nerves were the messengers bringing commands from the brain to the body, and, in this sense, responsible for all movement and perception. But the nerves could be made more effective only indirectly by strengthening the muscles and organs; only strong muscles would operate in harmony with the nerves and be able to carry out the commands they delivered from the brain. Without the underlying muscular strength, the nervous system's role as communicator went unfulfilled. (12)

From this perspective, the will to act and the quality of one's actions were dependent on physical rather than mental powers. Strength, understood as the power to defeat nervousness, develop courage, resist disease, and bestow a robust constitution upon one's offspring, became the indispensable requirement for both individual and nation to participate successfully in the relentless "struggle for existence" [Kampf ums Dasein] of modern life. As Damm's successor, Emil Peters, put it: "All life is strength. Everything man does, thinks or feels demands strength." (13) It was unfortunate, continued Peters, that for many Germans strength had become a word with whose real meaning they were unfamiliar.

Instead, they were caught up in the onesidedness of modern life where they fell prey to a debilitating nervousness, (14) described elsewhere as follows:
 Neurasthenia is the product of an over-refined civilization which
 over-stimulates the nervous system and weakens the body. Nowadays
 almost everyone is more or less nervous, a condition which
 expresses itself in the most diverse ways: poor sleep, insufficient
 digestion, head or back aches, overexcitability. Some suffer from a
 weariness with life [Weltschmerz], others oscillate between
 unbridled joy and immeasurable despair, others just go crazy at the
 slightest stress and do things the consequences of which are hard
 to put right. (15)

Nervousness, or neurasthenia, (16) afflicted men, women, and children alike and was, according to one writer, caused by heredity, excesses of any kind, and over-exertion of the body or the mind, especially upon a brain incapable of strong resistance. (17) Its symptoms, manifestations, and causes were so broad as to be almost meaningless for the purposes of scientific classification, but highly significant as an indication of the perceived onslaught of modernity upon the body and psyche.

Sufferers complained of a total depression of their mental and physical powers; they became forgetful and unable to organize thoughts or think logically. (18) Apathetic, they lost the ability to recover energy through sleep, and found no pleasure in work or social activity. (19) Symptoms included sleeplessness, digestive disorders, fluctuating heart rate, headaches and dizziness, pressure or tightening in the head, shooting pains, itching, and the feeling as if worms were crawling under the scalp.

In its sexual manifestations nervousness threatened to undermine regeneration by depleting reproductive potency. It was believed that nervousness led to a magnification of sexual desire, to be satisfied by excessive masturbation, leading to a greater desire, more masturbation, and so on. Young sufferers would look pale and tired, and were inclined to believe their vice was "written on their foreheads." Excessive masturbation led to considerable debility, uncontrolled discharge of semen, and a psychically induced impotence--it was feared and therefore it occurred. (20)

Alcoholism and drug addiction were also subsumed under nervousness. Due to their apparently hereditary nature, these disorders were feared to have extremely negative racial effects. For this reason Jewish temperance, as an antidote to German over-indulgence in alcohol, was one of the Jewish "racial" characteristics it was hoped would be gained by the assimilation of the Jews into the Volkskorper [racial body]. (21)

The term "nervous illness," therefore, signified a broad set of conditions that affected the whole person, rendering him or her weak, unproductive, and a poor prospect for reproduction. However, that kind of body in which a functional healthy relationship between nervous system and muscular strength could arise was presented by Karl Mann, a co-founder of Kraft und Schonheit. (22) Mann defined the ideal German male physique and contrasted it with the image of its sickly and far more common antithesis, the unwary product of urban-industrial society:
 The one is a 30 year-old blond German whose physique reflects a
 swaggering, primitive strength. He conforms to the ideal which we
 would like to see once more representing the majority in civilized
 society: the athletic physique without the muscular bulkiness of
 the Farnesian Hercules. Whoever practices rational physical
 training from childhood, and has no hereditary handicap, can attain
 this Germanic ideal even while living in the city. We are familiar
 with several men in white collar professions who belong thus to the
 cream of humanity. (23)

Mann believed the robust Germanic ideal was attainable in industrial society, despite the fact that the "struggle for existence" of modern life was pursued in a manner detrimental to physical development and well-being. However, this would be possible only if all Germans, from fashionable society [feinen Leute] to manual laborers and brain-workers [Kopfarbeiter], followed a regimen of daily physical exercise and adopted a manner of living consistent with the principles of "rational self-cultivation of the body." (24) In contrast, the weak German was personified by
 ... a 43 year-old railway-bridge attendant; height 1.70 m., weight
 43 kg., chest 83 cm. The shoulders fall forward as if [from] a
 burdensome weight ... the neck is skinny and slack, the collar-bone
 like a spoonhandle ... the muscles are slack--"skin and bone." He
 can hold his breath for 30 seconds at most, he is an obvious
 candidate for tuberculosis ... [due to] his work on the railway
 bridges of the Elbe where the atmosphere is filled with locomotive
 smoke. (25)

In the railway worker we see the negative effects of an urban-industrial environment. This man's physique exhibits not only the nervous debility inherent in a poor muscular development, but also susceptibility to tuberculosis, a disease for which, by the turn of the century, medical science had found no cure and one which was viewed as a national disaster. (26) Korperkultur proponents campaigned enthusiastically against both nervousness and tuberculosis in a battle that entailed important arguments on behalf of nudism [Nacktkultur], perhaps the single area that symbolized most clearly the "return to Nature."


In Kraft und Schonheits special issue on the Lichtluftbad [light and air bath] Dr. med. P. Jaerschkh (27) argued that man's vital self-regenerating capacities diminished under the unnatural conditions of modern life. As a hygienic counter-measure, Jaerschkh advocated exposure of the body to sunlight, since by returning the body to nature in this way, man could reconnect with the natural power sources that fed his regenerative processes. (28) In addition to working as an antidote to endless hours spent in windowless, airless offices, Jaerschkh and other proponents of nudism preached that exposure to the elements assisted the body to perform certain physiological operations obstructed by clothing. For example, Jaerschkh explained that light penetrated the body, affecting it not merely on the surface bur also in its depths. Entering the body through the eyes and the skin, it connected with the brain via the optic nerve and influenced the metabolism, breathing, and vascular system via the psyche. Through the skin light would be transmitted to the central organs of the nervous system and thence to the muscles, glandular system and other parts of the body. Thus, light was potentially neither lost nor reflected away from the body, but could be an essential revitalizing force that penetrated the body where it was transformed into human energy, becoming strength in the blood. Heat also was believed to be stored and employed as a healing agent within the body, (29) while at the body's surface, the effect of sunlight upon the skin was believed to have the power to kill bacteria untouched by powerful antiseptics. (30)

By presenting a detailed, scientific argument for its regenerative effects Jaerschkh sought to strengthen the case for Nacktkultur as a legitimate health-promoting strategy, and to prevail over those who campaigned against exposure of the body as immoral. His appeal to scientific authority universalized the case for nudism by placing disregard of "universal," "natural," "physiological laws" at the root of the individual and social malaise. (31) Obedience to these transcendent natural laws led proponents of Nacktkultur to believe themselves in the vanguard of the battle against degeneration and to portray their opponents as shortsighted prudes who lacked a meaningful perspective on the larger struggle.

In fact, beyond its physically therapeutic powers Nacktkultur was felt to have an important moral contribution to make to the sexual mores of early twentieth-century Germany. Through the return to Nature, it was held that Nacktkuhur reflected a desire to cultivate an unconstrained attitude towards the body, to "purify and refine healthy sensuality," "combat false shame," and become familiar with the natural beauty of the human form. (32) Only the unclothed body, freed from the deforming cloak of fashion, was deemed acceptable as the true indicator of beauty. Clothing in general was believed to have adverse moral effects and there was a campaign against the ubiquitous corset on the grounds that its one true purpose was to make the female bust appear larger by constricting the waist and forcing the breasts upwards. (33)

Disapproval of the corseted female figure was part of a wholesale criticism of reigning standards of beauty and sexual allure. The corset was believed to "degrade woman to the level of a stimulant, like tobacco and absinthe; because the man is no longer content with natural inducements." (34) This artificially eroticized object was identified with the city, where an unnatural eroticism had been produced by an unnatural civilization. A new sexual aesthetic was sought: "Both sexes should learn early the seriousness of their task in marriage, they should learn to marry out of love and thereby avoid all the misery of later disappointment and earlier temptations." (35)

By allowing them to become accustomed to the naked body, it was hoped that young people would develop a healthier sexuality since "It was the experience of primitive peoples who wandered around naked, confirmed by practicing artists, that the sight of the naked body, once accustomed to, does not arouse the senses but neutralizes the sexual, and raises the appreciation of beauty." (36) The return to Nature would, it was felt, be both a purifying experience as well as one to restore a sense of authenticity to prevailing sexual aesthetics and the standards of beauty they defined.

Beauty played a central role in Korperkultur plans to overhaul the institution of marriage. Love, kindled by a beauty personifying the racial ideal, would replace social and financial considerations as the primary criterion for selection of a wife. Love was the mechanism of sexual selection that would ensure regeneration, (37) beauty the physical sign that a woman possessed the qualities desired in Germans of future generations, and excluded the degenerate qualities of present racial stock. In this sense, female beauty was as important as strength in the male, for its absence, or presence in counterfeit form, would signify a lack of the mental and spiritual qualities required for regeneration of the face.

This desire to reform marriage and, through beauty and love, exercise a degree of control over the future of the race, was consistent with racial hygienist Alfred Ploetz's call for "rational selection." (38) Ploetz's belief, shared by Wilhelm Schallmeyer, (39) was that the weaker elements of the population could be spared the misery of natural selection (and the state be spared the expense of their upkeep) if a program of "rational selection" were introduced at the pre-fertilization stage of the reproductive process. (40) Korperkultur programs of "vernunftige Leibeszucht" [intelligent cultivation of the body], "rationelle Selbstzucht" [rational care of the self], and "rationelle Korperpflege" [rational care of the body], did incorporate Ploetz's proposal, but called for the implementation of sexual selection by the individual, rather than at the level of the state. The individual could overcome the ruthless mechanism of natural selection by elevating physical strength and courage, and by cultivating the finer racial characteristics signified by beauty, so that racially appropriate marriages could become the rule. (41) Korperkultur programs demanded that individuals take responsibility for implementation of the tenets of breeding and self-cultivation in all aspects of their lives, including the selection of a spouse, so that "Civilization [might] make man conscious and responsible in all areas in which he has heretofore been only impulsive and irresponsible." (42) It was only through a return to the authenticity of Nature, as symbolized by the unclothed body, that this degree of conscious responsibility could be born.

The Significance of Race

The significance of race in the lives of nations and individuals was hotly debated in the first decade of the twentieth century:
 The press is full of considerations of the value of racial purity,
 racial interbreeding, racial hygiene etc.... everything to do with
 the idea of race has gained the kind of significance that would not
 have been dreamed of ten years ago. Racial biology stands in the
 foreground of popular interest. Historians and sociologists,
 natural scientists, theologians and philosophers are arguing about
 this new, growing scientific discipline. (43)

Some, according to the writer, found in racial science the key to history, while others denied it the least relevance due to its inaccessibility to scientific investigation. (44)

To the Korperkultur movement race was clearly of paramount importance. A racial identity lay at the heart of regenerate individual and national identities, mediating between the two, stabilizing the renewed individuality by tying it to a larger community. Race superseded religion. Although regeneration called in effect for a resurrection of body and soul, the context of this modernist resurrection was Darwinian, not Christian. Regeneration was a process of conscious evolution engineered by man, reliant upon reason and will, rather than belief in a deity. The watchword Kampf ums Dasein [struggle for existence] was a constant reminder that vigilance and strength, rather than faith, were the crucial attributes, and survival rather than salvation the prize. Components of the regenerate soul were to be mined from the rich vein of attributes personified by such "pure" Germans as, for example, the Frisian islanders (45) and cultivated with techniques borrowed from the sciences of plant and animal husbandry and modern biology. (46)

Although racial purity was deemed desirable it was acknowledged to be unattainable. It was accepted that the German Valkskorper had advantageously incorporated Slav, Romance, and Celtic elements, and that the Jewish racial element was one that also should be absorbed into the Volkskorper due to its positive characteristics. (47) Rather than to restore racial purity, the goal of regeneration was to reassert the dominance of the superior Germanic element within the German (and subsequently European) racial character. If this course of action were not soon implemented it was feared that the Germanic element might be irreversibly obscured in the racial mix, with ensuing losses to civilization as a whole.

As long as they renounced all particularist claims and allowed themselves to be absorbed into the larger racial body, the Jews of Germany were identified as a desirable racial group rather than as one to be excluded. Heinrich Driesmans pointed out that anthropologists viewed the Jews as "a model example of a face," and countered liberal Jewish contentions that they formed a religious rather than a racial community:
 If you were even slightly acquainted with [the field of
 anthropology] then you would not defend yourself against the
 "typical characteristics" of your race and attempt to deny them ...
 you would be proud in general of having typical characteristics and
 would find the pride of your race in them. For a Volk or tribe
 lifts itself out of the mass, out of the general racial stew
 [Volkerbrei], precisely through its racial individuality, of which
 the characteristics offer external witness. (48)

This positive racial appraisal of the Jews stands in contrast to antisemitic attempts to scapegoat the Jews for the misfortunes of society at large. Degeneration was interpreted as a universal effect of the transformation to modernity; responsibility was assigned to every individual. Despite its reliance upon a bedrock of Germanic racial excellence, the movement's campaign against degeneration lacked antisemitic animus and, in this sense, as in every other, remained benign. (49) In the two decades prior to the first world war, the nationalist and racial content of Korperkultur programs of "intelligent self-discipline" and "rational cultivation of the body" never overstepped the bounds of bourgeois respectability. It was only in late 1915, with the realization that the war was not to be brief, victorious, and relatively painless, that the role of "international Jewry" in Germany's affairs began to be viewed in a more ominous light.


Despite an officially nonpartisan political stance, the political tone of Korperkultur writing may be classified as centrist, nationalist, and liberal. The movement was expressly opposed to the Social Democrats while standing clearly to the left of Conservative parties. It denounced both unbridled capitalism and socialism as agents of social and political disintegration: The one by fostering a self-centered, materialistic individualism, the other through its interpretation of history as the evolution of discrete social classes and the inevitable conflict between them. (50) Korperkultur promoted national unity founded in an organic, racialist (51) nationalism that both harnessed the individual in the service of the nation and, respecting the individual's rights, called for his or her fullest personal development.

Perhaps above all, the Regeneration and Korperkultur movements reflected the powerful political and social standing of science at the turn of the twentieth century when medical science and its practitioners enjoyed exceptional prestige and authority thanks to a century of impressive advances. The presumed objectivity of science allowed its practitioners to take the field as arbiters of social policy, to the disadvantage of apparently divisive and ineffectual political parties. In fact, in the latter hall of the nineteenth century as medical prestige soared, health became part of an "ideology of social integration" (52) with the potential to transcend political ideology because of its more immediate effect upon the lives of individuals.

Steeped in a social Darwinist view of civil society, the Korperkultur movement was an active proponent and publicizer of this integrationist "ideology" as formulated by medical experts in their roles as racial hygienists and social critics. (53) But whereas racial hygienists aimed at enabling state control of the nation's destiny through rational management of its gene pool, Korperkultur advocates focused their attention at the level of the individual, whom they sought to guide and instruct in the rational, systematic care of the body, and implementation of positive eugenic principles in daily life.

The Regeneration-Korperkultur movement attempted to span the abyss between the pre-modern and modern eras. The "lost" racial ideal would be reconstructed as a bridge between the degenerate present and a regenerate future. The movement sought both to preserve the values of the old "natural" order and to be an instrument of scientific progress. The call for a return to Nature reflected the desire to re-establish a lost sense of rootedness in the world, and yet, just as science had ousted religious truth and sired urban-industrial civilization, the Korperkultur movement turned to medical science to ensure national and individual survival in the new era. The drive towards a revival of the body had a double value, legitimized by science as conducive to health, the regenerate body would be witness that what was of essential value in a timeless, noble past--the racial ideal--had indeed been salvaged.

University of California, Los Angeles


(1) Daniel Pick, Faces of Degeneration: A European Disorder (Cambridge UP, 1989), p. 7.

(2) Benedict August Morel, Traite des degenerescences physiques, intellectuelles et morales de l'espece humaine (Paris, 1857).

(3) The movements formed part of a wider movement for social reform through self-reform that also encompassed anti-alcoholism, agrarian reform, housing reform, movement into rural settlements [Siedlungen], clothing reform, anti-vaccination, anti-vivisection, natural healing, and vegetarianism. These various branches of what was known as the Lebensreformbewegung [life-reform movement] shared one common principle: A "return to nature" as a way to reforge a self whose contours had been eroded by the onslaught of modernity. On the broader Lebensreformbewegung see Wolfgang R. Krabbe, Gesellschaftsveranderung durch Lebensreform (Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1974).

(4) On the "rediscovery" of the body in German culture see George L. Mosse, Nationalism and Sexuality: Middle Class Morality and Sexual Norms in Modern Europe (U of Wisconsin P, 1985), Chapter 3.

(5) See Alfred Danam, Die Entartung der Menschen und die Beseitigung der Entartung (Berlin: Bruer, 1895); W. L Braunlich, "Gesehlechtsleben und Degeneration," Kraft und Schonheit 8 (November 1908). (Sigmund Freud was announcing the "polymorphous perversity" of childhood sexuality at about this time in Three Essays on Sexuality [1905].)

(6) It was widely felt at the beginning of the twentieth century that German Kultur and the creative spirit it embodied was superior to that of her European rivals. Belief in a German mission to break the world dominance of Anglo-French civilization in the cultural sphere paralleled the more bellicose ambitions signaled by the adoption of Weltpolitik in 1896. The idea also prevailed that Darwinian natural selection was operative in the competition between nations for markets, colonies, and spheres of influence. Modris Eksteins makes the point that the combined cultural and militarist impulse is reflected by the spiritual interpretation placed by most German soldiers upon the combat they were entering into in August 1914. Modris Eksteins, Rites of Spring. The Great War and the Birth of the Modern Age (Houghton Mifflin: 1989), pp. 76-94. See also Wolfgang J. Mommsen, Imperial Germany 1867-1918 (New York: Arnold, 1995; originally Frankfurt am Main: Fischer, 1990), Chapter 11.

(7) Some contributors to the literature were designated as "aestheticians"; there were many physicians, and even some aesthetician/physicians. The two realms were closely linked in the attempt to formulate a regenerate lifestyle.

(8) See Alfred Kelly, The Descent of Darwin: The Popularization of Darwin in German), 1860-1914 (U of North Carolina P, 1981), on the influence of popular scientific literature and the popular press in Germany at this time.

(9) In 1907, according to Gustav Mockel (editor of Kraft und Schonheit), Turnen [gymnastics] could claim about one million members in its 10,000 clubs throughout Germany and Austria. "Turnen, Sport und Korperkultur," Kraft und Schonheit 7 (September 1907), pp. 264-271. Five years later, Dr. Ferdinand Goetz, president of the German Gymnastics Association [Deutsche Turnerschaft], boasted that the Turnerschaft was the "largest organization in the world." Goetz, "Friede zwischen Turnen und Sport. Antwort auf den 'offenen Brief' des Herrn Diem an die Deutsche Turnerschaft," Deutsche Turnzeitung 57 (31 October 1912), p. 829.

(10) Valkskraft, edited by Emil Peters, was the journal of the German Regeneration Society and, as such, perpetuated the teachings of Alfred Damm, founder and editor of the journal Regeneration (1895-1901). From 1902-1918 it appeared either within Kraft und Schonheit or independently, being succeeded in 1919 when Peters launched Schaffen und Leben, which ran until 1925. The journal Regeneration, founded by Damm in 1895, ceased independent publication in 1901 but appeared in Kraft und Schonheit as a subsection under the title Regeneration intermittently, then as Valkskraft, until the latter started to appear independently in 1906, edited by Emil Peters, as the official journal of the German Regeneration Society.

(11) Emil Peters, "Nervensystem und Lebenskraft," Valkskraft (supplement within Kraft und Schonheit) (January & February 19o8), pp. 1-3, 9-11. Also, "Schulerselbstmorde" (January 1908), p. 6, and "Das Nervensystem im Kampf ums Dasein" (January 1908), p. 7.

(12) Medicus, "Nervenschwache und deren Heilung," Kulturmensch (1 December 1904), pp. 54-55.

(13) Emil Peters, "Nervensystem und Lebenskraft," pp. 1-2.

(14) Peters, pp. 1-2.

(15) Medicus, "Nervenschwache," p. 54.

(16) The term neurasthenia was coined by New York physician George Miller Beard in the 1860s to mean "all the forms and types of nervous exhaustion coming from the brain and from the spinal cord." George M. Beard, A Practical Treatise on Nervous Exhaustion (New York, 1869), quoted in Anson Rabinbach, The Human Motor: Energy, Fatigue & The Origins of Modernity (New York: Basic Books, 1990), p. 153.

(17) Dr. J. Finckh, Die Nervenkrankheiten. Eine gemeinverstandliche Darstellung, Der Arzt als Erzieher, 3rd ed., Vol. 3 (Munich: Verlag der Arztlichen Rundschau, 1905), p. 24.

(18) Finckh, pp. 25-28.

(19) Finckh, p. 30.

(20) Finckh, p. 28.

(21) Gustav Mockel, "Deutschland und die Juden," Kraft und Schonheit 4 (May 1904), pp. 159-161.

(22) Kraft und Schonheit Sonderheft no. 1 Sandowheft, 6th ed. (Bedin, 1904; 1st ed. 1902), pp. 14-15. 23 Ibid., p. 14.

(24) "Vernunftige Leibeszucht" was the guiding principle of the regeneration program prescribed by Kraft und Schonheit.

(25) Ibid., p. 15.

(26) In 1894 tuberculosis afflicted 1.3 million people of all social classes in Germany, and was responsible for one seventh of all deaths. In 1904 there were 702,147 deaths in Prussia, of which ten percent were from tuberculosis. Dr. O. Burwinkel, Die Jungenschwindsucht ihre Ursachen und Bekampfung (gemeinverstandliche Darstellung), Der Arzt als Erzieher, 2nd ed., Vol. 2 (Munich: Verlag der Arztlichen Rundschau, 1907), p. 8.

(27) Jaerschkh was Chairman of the Berlin branch of the German Society for the Rational Care of the Body (Der Deutsche Verein fur vernunftige Leibeszucht) of which Kraft und Schonheit was the published organ, and the Chief Physician at the Barwinski'schen Sanatorium, Bad Eiegersburg.

(28) Dr. med. P. Jaerschkh, "Der Heilwert des Licht-Luftbades," Kraft und Schonheit Sonderheft No. 4, "Bade in Luft, Licht und Sonne: Das Sportluftbad," pp. 3-4.

(29) Idem.

(30) This type of hygiene was stressed in the treatment of tuberculosis where it was feared patients could be re-infected by tuberculosis bacilli ejected in the sputum. It became the task of medical personnel and patient to ensure maximum cleanliness with regard to this discharge.

(31) "The will, the imagination, and especially the health of the nation was being squandered in wanton disregard of the body's physiological laws." Rabinbach, Human Motor, p. 6.

(32) Die Schonheit: Erster Luxusband, Auswahl aus den ersten drei Banden der Schonheit, ed. Karl Vanselow (Berlin, Leipzig, Wien: Verlag der Schonheit, 1904), p. 3.

(33) "Die weibliche Brust," Kraft und Schonheit Sonderheft no. 2 Die Frauenschonheit, p. 29.

(34) Else E, "Das Reich der Frau," Hellas: Illustrierte Schriftenfolge fur Natur und Kultur, Kunst und Schonheit, Wissenschaft und Sozialleben, vol. 1, no. 3 (1907), pp. 47-48.

(35) "Neue Fernsichten," Hellas: Illustrierte Schriftenfolge fur Natur und Kultur, Kunst und Schonheit, Wissenschaft und Sozialleben, vol. 1, no. 2 (1907), pp. 17-18.

(36) Idem.

(37) Gustav Mockel, "Rassen- und Leibeszucht bei Menschen und Tieren," Kraft und Schonheit Rassenheft (April 1904), pp. 33-40.

(38) Ploetz and Wilhelm Schallmeyer are known as the founders of German eugenics. Ploetz founded the most important German eugenics journal, Archiv fur Rassen- und Gesellschaftsbiologie, in 1904.

(39) "The higher a civilization evolves the more the harsh forces of natural selection are inhibited, and the more pressing becomes the need for their replacement; sexual selection offers one such replacement." Wilhelm Schallmeyer, Vererbung und Auslese (Jena: Gustav Fischer, 1903), p. 3.

(40) Alfred Hoetz, Die Tuchtigkeit unsrer Rasse und der Schutz der Schwachen (Berlin: Fischer, 1895), pp. 224-232.

(41) Mockel, "Wie entsteht die Volkskraft?" Kraft und Schonheit 2 (September 1902), pp. 65-66.

(42) Jessie Grosvenor, "Korperubungen fur Frauen und Madchen," Kraft und Schonheit, Sonderheft no. 2: Frauen-Schonheit, p. 9.

(43) Heinrich Driesmans, "Uber Rasse und Rassenhygiene," Kraft und Schonheit: Rassenheft (April 19o4), p. 16.

(44) Idem.

(45) See Dr. Med. Haberlin, "Der Segen der reinen Rasse," Kraft und Schonheit: Rassenheft (April 1904), pp. 1-8.

(46) Gustav Mockel, "Rassen- und Leibeszucht bei Menschen und Tieren," Kraft und Schonheit Rassenheft (April 1904), pp. 33-40.

(47) Mockel, "Deutschland und die Juden."

(48) Die Welt (December 1902), pp. 5-6, in Sanford Ragins, Jewish Responses to Anti-Semitism in Germany, 1870-1914 (Cincinnati: HUC Press, 1980), p. 149.

(49) Although some of its primary contributors, such as Heinrich Pudor and Otto H. Jaeger, were anti-semites, this did not appear from their contributions to the Korperkultur literature.

(50) For an account of the attempt to find a political "third way" between socialism and capitalism see George L. Mosse, Germans and Jews: The Right, the Left, and the search for a "Third Force" in Pre-Nazi Germany (New York: Howard Fertig, 1970). Also Richard Herf, Reactionary Modernism (Cambridge UP, 1984) and Armin Mohler, Die Konservative Revolution in Deutschland 1918-1932 (Stuttgart: Vorwerk, 1950).

(51) I use "racialist" to mean founded in racial thought without the aggression towards other races inherent in the term "racist."

(52) Paul Weindling, Health, race and German politics between national unification and Nazism 1870-1945 (Cambridge UP, 1989), p. 1.

(53) See Alfred Kelly, Chapter 7, "Social Darwinism and the Popularizers."
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Author:Kenway, Christopher
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Date:Mar 22, 1998
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