In the lack of political order, morality and social ties were reinterpreted among the dispersed people, according to Kusenberg, who urged his readers to urgently put themselves back in that “starving, torn, shivering, poverty-stricken, perilous time”:
A few images that have left a lasting impression on people’s memories of the post-war era in Germany include the Russian soldier yanking a woman’s bicycle out of her hands, the shadowy figures gathered around some eggs on the black market, the temporary Nissen huts housing refugees and people whose homes had been bombed, and the women hesitantly holding up photographs of their missing husbands to the returning prisoners of war. The sociological components of daily living, such as cleaning up, making love, stealing, and shopping, are less important in Aftermath than the cultural dimensions, such as the life of the intellect and the emergence of a radical new aesthetic. More specifically, questions of conscience, guilt, and repression are raised here. Germans tended to present themselves as sophisticated, well-educated, and tirelessly engaged in serious discussions. Today, we are very familiar with the Holocaust. We know little about how life went on in Germany after World War II because of the uncertainty it caused for the future of the nation.