"Arbeit Macht Frei" as written by and Peter Doherty....
Roll a gasper
The guard said he could stay alive
But he has to shovel
And burn his friends to die, people to die
And the gate read:
"Arbeit Macht Frei"

In her rollers
And a gasper
She's leaning the steps in a mean street
Where no policeman walks the beat

Her old man
He don't like blacks or queers
Yet he's proud we beat the Nazis?
How queer

Arbeit Macht Frei


Lyrics submitted by on_a_plain_11

"Arbeit Macht Frei" as written by Peter Doherty

Lyrics © EMI Music Publishing, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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Arbeit Macht Frei song meanings
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  • +1
    General CommentAbout the holocaust. Arbeit Macht Frei means work will set you Free in german and was written on the gate of auschwitz, which I think is the biggest of all the concentration camps.
    Perfect Wh()reon October 04, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General Comment'ow queer...classic!
    fortunate_boyon February 25, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General Commenther dad, he's still racist/homophobic, yet he feels he's better than the nazis. They're just saying that with an attitude like that, you're not much better. Quite a strong statement.

    Still makes me dance my ass off though. Pete sounds completely off his head in this. Second thoughts, he probably was.
    legolass20034on June 25, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General Commentok this is not what this song means to me but in MY SUBJECTIVE OPINION, what they were trying to say, for the record i think some reasonalbe info has been posted but ur wrong/off the mark lolol ok im messing but here goes, its not about the holocaust, but uses it as a metephor or refrence point, somone already described the line "The guard said he could stay alive
    But he has to shovel
    And burn his people to die - even if you die" pretty well, basically at the time they had to burry their own once the unlucky few were gassed and those that were used in work and labour were told hard workers would be set free, hence quelling a riot and keeping work going with false hope. Hence arbeit macht frei, german nationalist phrase from a book written in the 19th century if im right...this is basically showing the dirty side (only side) of nazism.
    Then the song says "In her rollers
    And a gasper
    Cleaning the steps in a mean street
    Where no policeman walks the beat"
    i think this is simply giving a idea of a typical working class situation probably in london or manchester, urban area, very rough etc, but could be anywhere in uk if we are honest.
    then the final and most buetifully written verse
    "(her old man)
    he don't like blacks or queers
    (yet he's proud he beat the nazis? - how queer...) "
    showing the IRONICY, that the father, though proud of beating the nazi regeim is no better! and the middle verse is more to say that this is the situation in england, this song is simply playing on ironicy,.
    CIAO! if you agree or disagree or want to correct me then feel free, life is a learning curve, If im wrong i wanna know!
    PerryDeuon September 05, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General Commentauschwitz was definitely a concentracion camp, the biggest one. "arbeit macht frei" was written on the gates. the meaning is rather hard to explain - it has something to do with the whole nazi-ideology.
    for them, the jews (and homosexuals, communistins, intelligent people) weren't humans.
    so they should work to free their mind and souls from the shame of being jewish etc

    and "ableit" ist no (german) word :).
    and "arbeit macht frei" means "work sets free", right
    Second Prizeon March 18, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI don't think they're talking about modern England, racism nowadays is extremely rare here.

    The song, to me, is in two parts and I don't think they're strictly connected but both are deeply ironic.

    They've taken a Nazi theme, the first part a German soldier says to a Jewish prisoner that he can live but he has to take part in the genocide of his own people - working his socks off, of course in the process, however, when they say 'on the gate read......', I believe they're implying that the work setting him free, will always keep him imprisoned - in his mind at least because how do you recover from that?
    Or it could suggest the ones being made free (liberated from torture and inhumanity) are the ones who he's working his socks off to get rid of - he's doing all the work and being made to suffer, yet they are being 'set free'.

    The second part, for me, they are painting a picture of the 70's and I always imagine Alf Garnett when I hear the second part of the song - the daughter with rollers in her hair (so 70's) and a cigarette in her mouth has to listen to her dad, Alf go on about winning the war with such pride and the irony of what the Allies were fighting for, liberating Europe and fighting the racist Nazi's, is lost on him as he is no different.

    I don't think they are talking about current society and more likely, they were off of their faces when writing the song and possibly saw a film about the Nazi's or saw an old episode of 'til death do us part' or possibly both - perhaps Barat wrote the first part and Doherty the second - who knows.

    It's a brilliant and witty song with great lyrics but I don't think it's supposed to be as profound as we are assuming - they're both excellent wordsmiths and I'm sure they were just 'sparring' at the time.
    observer01ukon December 09, 2010   Link
  • +1
    My OpinionThis song's about Carl being a woman.
    LyraMemeon April 04, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General Commentgasper is cigarette
    libertines_loveron October 20, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentArbeit Macht Frei means through work comes freedom and it was written so jewish concentration camp workers would believe that after the war they would be released if they worked hard enough.
    The song is about the irony of the old man who fought the nazi facsists but doesn't like "blacks or queers".
    tommo_007on January 15, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Commentdunno just great fast beated song carl barat and pete doherty are the kings/queens of rock
    monkeylikesplaceboon January 15, 2005   Link

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