In the novel „After Midnight”, the then way of life and the people living under the Nazi regime are presented in all aspects through the observations, actions and suffering of the protagonist Susanne Moder (Sanne) as well as other characters. With the help of secondary literature and historical sources, it is easy to make a connection with the actual events of that time. Although this is not explicitly mentioned in the novel, some descriptions - in particular Hitler's - are very authentic. The work of Imgard Keun did not receive so many good reviews in vain: Keun had experienced the early years of Hitler's rule. Because of this, she could accurately reflect the atmosphere of Hitler's years and we can confidently say that the timeline of the novel - around mid-March 1936 - is clearly recognizable. This novel, however, is not an analysis of Nazism, but a novel, which must be thoroughly and repeatedly read so that we can understand the greater criticism of Nazi Germany of the time. When interpreting the content, one should pay attention to the historical and political background of this period, which is described in the novel in an artistic way.
The book's analysis showed that throughout the novel, there are hints of repressive measures that were carried out by Nazi politics between 1933 and 1936. Such measures were, for example, Nuremberg Laws. The Reich Citizenship Law and the Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honor have a central role in the novel: Dieter Aaron, a man of forbidden Jewish-Aryan descend, and Sannin, Gerta's best friend, cannot be a couple because of the legislation. In order for the in love couple to be able to see each other at least, Sanna follows Gerti as an alibi several times to their meetings. Dieter Aaron also loses his job at a chemical factory, but he is not the only one: Dr. Breslauer, a Jewish doctor, loses his health insurance due to the Public Administration Reform Act and can no longer carry out his profession. He does what most people did - go to exile. Slowly, but certainly Jewish traders are also being boycotted.
Keun also describes a number of other social phenomena created by the Nazi ideology, such as, for example, the „denunciation movement“. Informants denounced people for personal, unjustified reasons. Encouraged by a propagated view of the world, denunciations have become a social practice that is portrayed in the novel by Aunt Adelheid’s character, as well as in the scene in which Sanna is waiting at the police station for her hearing by the Gestapo.
Even the Nazi Command, which spread fear and terror in the Third Reich, is explicitly or implicitly mentioned in numerous text passages. Thus, the direct actors - SA, SS, national defense and the secret state police are presented. With a caricatured way of expression, with which Keun describes their activities and behavior, she creates a downright mockery. She describes the Nazi march is described as "a kind of ballet", which is in complete contradiction with the then idea of the elite: the Führer, soldiers and paramilitaries. In propaganda these people were presented as some kind of pop icons. In particular, Hitler was portrayed as a self-sacrificing leader, but in reality he did not even remotely fit in with the ideal image of a human. Keun hints at this, among other things, with a pejorative metaphor of an empty hand, with which he waves at his followers, as a prince at a carnival procession. His speeches and the visit to Frankfurt are marked by the author as politically meaningless.
In general, the Nazi ideology appears in the novel through propaganda - with the help of various organizations such as the National Socialist Women's League, whose members were Aunt Adelheid, Mrs. Silias and Mrs. Breitwehr, or Hitler's Youth. The daily lives of people were influenced by various elements and mass events that shaped the Nazi everyday life, such as caretaker regulation, anti-aircraft exercises, Hitler's greeting, Horst Wessel Song and various printed media, like the newspaper „Der Stürmer“.
The description of the then society becomes more and more credible by analyzing the status of intellectuals. Keun was, like Sanns brother Algin, a writer and her works landed, same as Algin's did, on a „blacklist“. In the novel, the regulation of intellectuals is listed as a complex problem. All characters have to either adapt or resist. Political events and the fact that in Germany one can no longer be a critical journalist, bring Heini to despair. Due to the censorship and writer restrictions, he is convinced that literature itself has no meaning. Not much better is the thought of a new beginning in another country.
Although the situation in Nazi Germany is desperate, all characters try to improve the social and living conditions. However, those who decide to live in Nazi Germany, fail to do so. In the case of journalist Heini, his life ends in suicide. On the contrary, escaping or going into exile proves to be the successful solution. The new problems that arise later on as a result of the statelessness of the characters - the criteria for accepting exiles, the financial position of the exiles and other issues in the Novel, that determine the fate of stateless individuals in the novel are an interesting topic for future debates.
Imgard Keun wrote a remarkable work with the novel „After midnight“, which readers should carefully read in order to extract the critique contained. In the first place, she is primarily a writer and an artist, and therefore does not immediately place Nazism on a shameful pillar, but expresses her disapproval with sophisticated hints and carefully designed formulations. By caricaturing the repressive apparatus, with her funny and ironic narrative, Keun brings in some places a smile on the reader’s face, and at the same time leads them to reflect on the situation in the then Nazi Germany. In her own way, she acquaints the readers with the banality of the Nazi ideology and its mentality, and therefore today the novel is still regarded as one of the fundamental parts of German exile literature.