If you go and dig up the statistical information on atheism in Europe.....Germany is in the top ten. The EU average (by Wiki) is 20-percent of each nation is atheist in nature. The lowest is Romania with one-percent, and the highest is France with forty-percent. Germany? It rests there with around 27-percent of the nation as atheists.
A true picture of Germany?
This starts an odd topic. Rarely are individual state or regional polls done like this. What German journalists say is that most atheists that exist in Germany....reside in the eastern side of the country. The logical end-discussion point is that the old DDR mentality, with Soviet influence, helped to create this large core of atheists in the region.
When you sit down and look at other numbers though....it's hard to buy this simple explanation. For example....other Soviet satellites from the old Cold War period (Romania, Poland, Slovakia and Hungary) have a much lesser number of atheists. Adding fuel to the discussion is that fact of France having the 40-percent. Oddly, even Germans will note that in the Hamburg region, it's a very large group of atheists.
So, I come to three suggestions to explain this....most having to do with history.
1. The Hanseatic League started up along the German north coast and extended into the Netherlands, Belgium, and Denmark in the 1300s. It was a trade and craftsman group, which had a fair amount of hatred of the Catholic Church. Their leadership authority and legal system took an extremely harsh view of Church politics in the region and helped to funnel a lot of people toward atheism. That independent view still resides today along the coastal region of Europe.
2. The Thirty Years War and the Saint Bartholomew's Day massacre in France....both fueled a discontent with the Catholic Church and opened up the door in central Europe for the atheist view.
3. Finally, you come to a large concentration prior to the 1930s of German university operations in the eastern side of the nation. I would suggest that the thought process of questioning things through these universities.....some of which existed from the 1400s on....added more emphasis to questioning religion of all types.
Why I bring this all up? With immigration growing as a topic in Germany, and thousands upon thousands of Muslim enthusiasts showing up in Germany....eventually, you'd think that one of them would ask if there was a problem in losing your religion in Germany.
Statistics say yes....and if you live in the eastern side of the country or in Hamburg....it's a pretty big chance that will happen.
This is the same crowd to note that not only is there freedom of religion existing in Germany, but freedom from religion as well.
It would be curious to see some statistical data and if the current trend is Islamic growth mostly in the western states of Germany, and to ask why that's the case.....but I doubt if German journalists really want to open that line of questioning.