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Niels Bukh (1880–1950) was a Danish gymnast and educator who founded the first athletic folk high school in Ollerup in Funen, Denmark. He achieved international fame as a gymnastics trainer for the Danish team at the Olympic Games in Stockholm in 1912. He was inspired by the rhythmic female gymnastics of the Finnish gymnastics educator Elli Björksténs (1870-1947) and the medical gymnastics of Kaare Theilmann. Within the tradition of Pehr Henrik Ling, Bukh developed his own primitive gymnastics, aimed at using forceful exercises in order to prevent stiffness and bad bodily habits. In 1931 his gymnastics team toured the world, visiting Japan where his system became highly influential. His system of exercise became highly popular in Germany, and in 1933 Bukh publicly expressed his allegiance to the National Socialist cause and its aim of improving the health of the Aryan race through gymnastics. This made Bukh unpopular in Denmark, especially after the German occupation of Denmark in 1940. Bukh support for Nazism caused a backlash in the form of a previous lover publicly revealing Bukh's homosexuality. Bukh had lived together with a male partner for several years, and his sexuality was well known in his family and among his friends and students. Biographers speculate that Bukh never became aware of the Nazi stance against homosexuality, even in spite of his frequent visits to Germany during the 1930s and -40s. In 1944 he bought the manor Løgismose, which he sold again in 1947.[1][2][3][4]


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