Belsen Was A Gas

Album: The Great Rock And Roll Swindle (1979)


  • This song is about Bergen-Belsen, a German concentration camp that was liberated by British troops in 1945. Even by Sex Pistol's standards, it's a controversial song. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Jakob - Edmonton, Canada
  • The Canadian phone company Bell Canada took some heat when they commissioned a wall-size subway ad showing a girl using one of their phones and wearing a Sex Pistol's pin that read "Belsen was a gas." They apologized for the ad, as many people took offense at a phone company using the line to promote a product. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France
  • Lead singer Johnny Rotten credits bass player Sid Vicious with coming up with the title, originally "Belsen Was A Gag." Rotten changed it to "Belsen Was A Gas" as a nod to one of his favorite pop songs, T. Rex's "Life's A Gas."
  • In Daniel Rachel's book The Art of Noise: Conversations with Great Songwriters, Rotten (real name John Lydon) calls this "an absurd song. It's over the top. It's an ironical song. It's so completely, clearly not pro that at all."

Comments: 2

  • Mike from Clinton, MaThere were no gas chambers at Bergen-Belsen. In fact, only 7 Nazi camps had them out of the hundreds. The deaths at Bergen-Belsen were mostly due to a massive epidemic of typhus, starvation, other diseases, exhaustion and other forms of execution (beating, gunshot, etc.)

    The "fact" behind this song is inaccurate as is the song itself.
  • Frank from Morenci , Aznot one of my favorite Sex Pistol Songs...Never Mind the Bollocks is one of my favorite albums of all time.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Def Leppard QuizMusic Quiz

Can you name Def Leppard's only #1 hit in America? Get rocked with this adrenalized quiz.

Loudon Wainwright IIISongwriter Interviews

"Dead Skunk" became a stinker for Loudon when he felt pressure to make another hit - his latest songs deal with mortality, his son Rufus, and picking up poop.

Stand By Me: The Perfect Song-Movie CombinationSong Writing

In 1986, a Stephen King novella was made into a movie, with a classic song serving as title, soundtrack and tone.

Pete AndersonSongwriter Interviews

Pete produced Dwight Yoakam, Michelle Shocked, Meat Puppets, and a very memorable track for Roy Orbison.

Marvin GayeFact or Fiction

Did Marvin try out with the Detroit Lions? Did he fake crazy to get out of military service? And what about the cross-dressing?

Richard MarxSongwriter Interviews

Richard explains how Joe Walsh kickstarted his career, and why he chose Hazard, Nebraska for a hit.