Steffen Mau

Lütten Klein - Life in the East-German Transformative Society

With numerous images
(German title: Lütten Klein)
ca. 284 pages
Steffen Mau
Foto: Steffen Mau
© Jürgen Bauer

Steffen Mau, born in 1968, is Professor for Macrosociology at the Humboldt University of Berlin.

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France (MSH)

#1 on the ZEIT Best-of-the-Month-List (Nonfiction) in September

More than 15.000 copies sold

Highly topical: A tale of two countries — 30 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall

An important work of East-West German social history


Steffen Mau grows up in the 1970s in Lütten Klein, a neighbourhood of newly constructed residential buildings in Rostock. When the Berlin Wall falls, he is serving with the National People’s Army, after the reunification he goes to university, eventually becomes a professor. All the while his home is battling with the drawbacks of the reunification: Instead of a prospering economy, rusty industrial ruins dominate the landscape. With new freedom and mass consumerism come the experiences of social downgrading.

30 years after 1989 Mau takes stock from the perspective of a Lütten Klein-born sociologist that is both sharp and empathetic. He talks to people who left and people who stayed, he looks back on life in a state that no longer exists. How did the social structure, did mindsets change? What are the reasons for the current dissatisfaction and political alienation in the new eastern federal states? How did the city in which he spent his youth together with children from all kinds of backgrounds become a place of social division? His conclusion: many of the divisions that can be observed in eastern Germany stem from the time of the GDR. But they weren’t dissolved by the transformation. Rather, they were aggravated into the societal fractions that shape our country to this day.


»With Lütten Klein, Stefan Mau presents a book that is both personal and informative. His greatly empathetic study enables readers from West and East Germany to understand not only life in the GDR better but also the subsequent system change as well as the resulting consequences and ›societal fractures‹.« Jürgen Schupp, Soziopolis.de

»The reference to the overlooked feminization of the migration to the West is just one of the many epiphanies that make reading Steffen Mau’s book so rewarding.« Rainer Hank, Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung

»Steffen Mau‘s study of the residential neighbourhood Lütten Klein in the GDR is full of stimulating provocations.« Frank Pergande, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

» [...] masterful and inspiring.« René Schlott, Der Tagesspiegel

»A well-informed study on the rupture that runs through East Germany.« DIE ZEIT

»Steffen Mau provides differentiated socio-psychological ideas.« Irmtraud Gutschke, Neues Deutschland

»Those who wish to understand East Germany should read Steffen Mau’s sociological survey Lütten Klein.« Thomas Steiner, Badische Zeitung

»Steffen Mau talks about his own experience and that of other inhabitants of Lütten Klein and supports the anecdotes – wherever necessary – with numbers just enough to create a multi-faceted description of a specific society without overwhelming the reader with garrulity, lachrymosity, or facts.« Silke Hasselmann, Deutschlandfunk

»It’s like a story of two countries. […] The conclusion of this extremely remarkable book that is moreover an enjoyable read: Many tensions we can now observe in East Germany originate in the GDR.« Jürgen Christen, Buchmarkt

Other publications

Das metrische Wir/The Metric We (2017)

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English world rights (Polity), Czech Republic (Karolinum)