*** German beaches beachwear







German Beaches

German beaches
Figure 1.--These German children are enjoying the beach at a German lake. Notice the mountains in the background. The photograph looks to have been taken in the 1920s. Notice the boy wearing a white hirt and tie. Image courtesy of the PB collection.

he ability of people to enjoy beaches is a very modern phenomenon. This is especially true of Germany because of its geography. Germany does gave a coast, buth a North Sea and a Baltic coast. Most Germans and Austrians lived at considerable distrances from a coast. Until the railroads appeared, few Germans had access to the Herman sea beaches located in the far north. Children in inland locations could still enloy lakes and rivers. With the railroads, Germans from all over the country had access to sea beaches. Germany had a short North Sea coast (between the Netherlands and Denmark. There was a much longer Baltic coast (before World War II). As a result of the War, most of what had been a German coast became Polish. Most references we I have noted describe the Baltic beaches. Here there was not only the Baltic coast, but German islands in the Baltic. Of all the major European countries, Germans had longer to travel to get to the beach, so it was generally a luxury for the well to do. Germany also has beautiful lakes which were more accessible to most Germans. Swiming in both locations require hardy sould. Here we are talking about rather cold water.

Chronology

The ability of people to enjoy beaches is a very modern phenomenon. This is especially true of Germany because of its geography. Germany does gave a coast, buth a North Sea and a Baltic coast. But it is very short coastline, located along the northrn part of the country. And acceopt for Hamburg, Germany's cities are far from those baches, especially the Baltic Sea beaches. As a result, until the coming of the railroads, there was no way for any number of people to get to the beaches, at least sea beaches. Germany had many beautiful lakes. While there lake beaches, it wa not the same as sea beaches. This is why gthe first people to enjoy beaches and sea bathing were the well-to-do. They could afford the expense of travel in pre-railroad times. As well as the expense in staying in expnsive resort hotels. One of the first beaches resorted by ordinary people was Coney Island in America--and this was bcause it was a part of New York City. We do not know if there was a popular beach that was part of Hamburg. But as a result of Germany's very extensive and efficient rail system, Germans from the most remote areas could enjoy a moestly priced seaside vacation. This would mean the middle class. Day tripping for the working-class as developed in Britain was much less common in Germany. The photographic record of this mostly comes from the 20th century, but we have found a few images frim the late-19th century.

Resorts

Most Germans and Austrians lived at considerable distrances from a coast. Until theRailroads appeared, few Germans had access to beaches located in the far north. Children in inland locations could still enloy lakes and rivers. With the railroads, Germans had access to the beach. Germany had a short North Sea coast (between the Netherlands and Denmark. There was a much longer Baltic coast (before World War II). Bost references I have noted describe the Baltic beaches, Here there was not only the Baltic coast, but German islands in the Baltic. Of all the major European countries, Germans had longer to travel to get to the beach, so it was generally a luxury for the well to do. Germany also has beautiful lakes which were more accessible to most Germans. Swiming in both locations require hardy souls. Here we are talking about rather cold water.

Beach Activities

There are all kinds of fun activities that can be enjoyed at the beach. Of course swimming or at least playing in the surf is the one that most immediately comes to mind, but this depended a great deal on both age and chronlogically changing tastes. Today, laying in the sand getting a tan (even now that the dangers of skin cancer are known) are a major interet. This was not the case in the early-20th century when a milky white complexion was the ideal. Notice how beavh goers are commonly dressed and covered up. Swiming was popular for older childre, escpecially the boys. The younger children were more interested in play on the beach, especially with the sand, digging and builing sand castles. If there were safe areas, wading and splashing in the shallows were also popular activities. A factor at German beaches, meaning primarily the Baltic was the te,perture. The Blatic is a northerly sea. The German Baltic coast is set at about %%´┐ŻN, approximately the same lattitide as Maine and Nova Scotia in Noryth America and there is no moderating influences like the Gulf Stream. hus a swim is a rather bracing experience.

Beachwear

We note German boys wears a wide range of outfits to the beach. The swimsuits seem very similar to those worn in other European countries. As in other countries, boys did not always wear swimsuits for beachwear when playing in the sand or engafed in other beach-fromt activities. The sailor suit was a very popular garment for beachwear during the early 20th century. Often boys took off their shoes and stockings for plasying and wading on the beach, but often they wore long stockings when not actually playing in the sand. Boys of course worn many other outfits besides sailor suits. These styles varied over time, but almost all of our seaside beach images comes from the 20th century.





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Created: 4:36 AM 8/11/2004
Last updated: 11:37 PM 9/4/2023