Michael Trout - Sep 2, 2008

The Schengen agreement, which effectively saw the end of border controls and introduced the free movement of goods amongst European Union members, has been met with open arms by most Europeans. Indeed, the days of waiting for passports to be checked and standing in queues at border points sweating as to whether the permitted amount of cigarettes has been exceeded or not are well and truly gone. Instead of warnings the borders now welcome the visitors by numerous informative signs.


However, the Schengen agreement has had one notable failure, on the Baltic coast on a beach between Poland and Germany. The problem surrounds an ongoing argument between the Catholic modest bathers on one side of the border and German nudists on the other.


The German town Ahlbeck and the Polish town Swinoijscie used to be divided by an iron mesh, which stretched even into the Baltic Sea. The division meant that the German nudists would not be disturbed by swimwear bearers and that Polish Catholics would never be offended by the sight of bare flesh.


Nowadays, or ever since January 2008, there is merely a sign telling people which state they are in and some do not even notice it. This basically means that the whole area has become one large nudist beach. Now, the Germans are unhappy that some Poles come across and, as they say, ‘stare’ at the nudists, whereas the Catholic Poles are disgusted to see naked bodies in public in their own country. The Poles are even more disturbed by the fact that the Usedom beach, the name referring to the whole border area, is a popular spot for walking. The, so far, most sensible solution to the problem has been to relocate the whole nudist area to a place far from the Polish border.


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