The Second World War was one of the most destructive conflicts in human history, and its impact was felt by people of all faiths around the world.

The six major religions, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, and Sikhism, each had their own unique perspectives on the war and its aftermath.


Christianity, which is the world's largest religion, was deeply affected by The Second World War. Many Christian leaders, such as Pope Pius XII, spoke out against the Nazi regime and its atrocities, while others supported the war effort. The Catholic Church was also involved in efforts to rescue Jews and others targeted by the Nazis.

Pope Pius XII, who was the leader of the Catholic Church during the war, spoke out against the Nazis and their treatment of Jews. He urged Catholics to work towards peace and to protect those who were being persecuted. However, some have criticized his response as not being strong enough, as he did not excommunicate Catholic members of the Nazi party.

Other Christian leaders, such as Dietrich Bonhoeffer, were more vocal in their opposition to the Nazis. Bonhoeffer, a Lutheran pastor and theologian, was involved in a plot to assassinate Hitler and was executed for his role in the resistance.

In the United States, Christian leaders such as Billy Graham and Reinhold Niebuhr supported the war effort and helped to shape public opinion. They believed that the war was necessary to defeat the evil of the Nazis and to protect freedom and democracy.

Christianity faced many challenges during The Second World War, including the challenge of reconciling the belief in a loving and just God with the horrors of war and the Holocaust. Many Christians struggled with the question of how a loving God could allow such suffering and evil to exist in the world.

Overall, Christianity's response to The Second World War was complex and varied, with different leaders and groups taking different approaches. However, many Christians spoke out against the atrocities committed by the Nazis and worked to promote peace and justice in the aftermath of the war.


The world's second-largest religion, Islam, had a diverse reaction to The Second World War due to its global presence. Muslim leaders and communities were located in different parts of the world, from North Africa to Southeast Asia, and their reactions varied depending on their social, political, and economic conditions.

In the Middle East, many Muslims were opposed to British and French colonial rule, and they saw The Second World War as an opportunity to gain independence. Some Muslim leaders, such as Egypt's King Farouk, sided with the Axis powers to gain leverage in negotiations with the Allies. However, other Muslim leaders, such as the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, aligned with the Nazis and supported their goal of eliminating Jews.

In India, which had a large Muslim population, the All India Muslim League initially opposed Indian independence from British rule but later supported it. The League's leader, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, saw The Second World War as an opportunity to strengthen the Muslim community's political power in a post-colonial India.

In North Africa, many Muslims fought against the Axis powers alongside the Allies. The Free French forces in North Africa, which included many Muslim soldiers, played a crucial role in defeating the Axis powers in North Africa.

One of the major challenges for Muslims during The Second World War was the impact of the war on their communities. Many Muslims faced economic hardship, displacement, and violence during the war, particularly in areas where fighting occurred.

Overall, Islam's reaction to The Second World War was diverse and complex, reflecting the diverse political and social contexts of Muslim communities around the world. Muslim leaders and communities responded in different ways, from opposing colonialism to supporting the Allies or Axis powers, but they were all affected by the war's consequences.


The Jewish community faced unprecedented challenges during The Second World War, including the genocide of six million Jews by Nazi Germany and its collaborators in the Holocaust, which included the use of concentration camps, gas chambers, and other forms of mass murder. Jewish communities across Europe were uprooted, destroyed, and displaced, and survivors faced profound trauma and loss. The Jewish experience during The Second World War was a defining moment in Jewish history, and it continues to shape Jewish beliefs, practices, and identity to this day.

Outside of Europe, such as the United States and British Mandate Palestine, Jewish communities played a significant role in supporting the Allied war effort and advocating for the establishment of a Jewish state. Many – including those who had escaped persecution in Europe - would find themselves serving in the Allied forces on the front line.

One significant response to the Holocaust was the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, which was seen as a necessary step towards ensuring the safety and survival of the Jewish people. Many Jewish leaders and organizations played a role in advocating for the establishment of a Jewish state, including the Zionist movement led by figures such as David Ben-Gurion.

Other Jewish leaders emphasized the importance of memory and remembrance in the aftermath of the Holocaust, such as the philosopher Martin Buber and the author Elie Wiesel. These leaders sought to ensure that the atrocities of the Holocaust would never be forgotten and that future generations would learn from the lessons of the past.

The Jewish community also faced challenges in the aftermath of the war, including the rebuilding of Jewish communities and institutions that had been destroyed during the Holocaust. This included the establishment of new synagogues and schools, as well as efforts to support Jewish refugees and survivors.

Ultimately, Judaism's reaction to The Second World War was shaped by the experiences of the Holocaust and the challenges faced by Jewish communities in the aftermath of the war. While the establishment of Israel represented a significant achievement for the Jewish people, the trauma and loss of the Holocaust continued to shape Jewish beliefs and practices in the decades that followed.


Hinduism, which is the world's third-largest religion, had a complex reaction to The Second World War, with its leaders and communities responding in a variety of ways. In India, which has the world's largest Hindu population, the country was under British colonial rule during The Second World War.

Many Hindu leaders, including Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru, saw India's participation in the war as hypocritical, given the country's lack of independence. Gandhi called for nonviolent resistance against British rule and opposed India's involvement in the war effort.

However, other Hindu leaders, such as Subhas Chandra Bose, saw The Second World War as an opportunity to gain independence from British rule. Bose, who was a leader of the Indian National Congress and later the Indian National Army, sought support from the Axis powers and led a military campaign against the British in India.

In other parts of the world, Hindu communities faced challenges and difficulties during The Second World War. In Southeast Asia, where many Hindus lived, the Japanese occupation brought economic hardship and violence, particularly against Chinese and Indian communities. In Fiji, which has a large Hindu population, many Hindus were recruited to fight alongside the Allies and faced discrimination and segregation in the military.

Throughout the war, Hindu leaders and communities grappled with the ethical and moral implications of the conflict, particularly as it related to their quest for independence from colonial rule. While some Hindu leaders supported India's participation in the war, others saw it as a distraction from their larger goal of achieving self-determination.

Overall, Hinduism's reaction to The Second World War reflected the diversity and complexity of the religion's beliefs and practices. Hindu leaders and communities responded in different ways, with some opposing the war effort and others seeking to use the conflict to further their political goals.


Buddhism, the world's fourth-largest religion, had a unique reaction to The Second World War due to its particular emphasis on nonviolence and peace.

Many Buddhist leaders and communities, particularly in Japan and Korea, faced significant challenges during The Second World War. In Japan, the government's promotion of nationalist and militaristic ideals clashed with Buddhist principles of compassion and nonviolence. Some Buddhist leaders spoke out against the war effort, and many Buddhist temples and institutions faced pressure to conform to the government's ideology.

In Korea, which was under Japanese occupation during The Second World War, Buddhist leaders and communities faced discrimination and persecution, with many temples and monasteries destroyed or damaged.

However, Buddhism was able to play a significant role in promoting peace and reconciliation during and after the war. In 1947, the Buddhist monk Nichidatsu Fujii founded the Nipponzan Myohoji Buddhist order, which focused on promoting world peace through nonviolence and interfaith dialogue. Fujii was also known for his efforts to build peace pagodas around the world as symbols of peace and unity.

Other Buddhist leaders, such as the Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh, also emphasized the importance of nonviolence and compassion in response to the violence and trauma of The Second World War. Hanh later became a leading advocate for engaged Buddhism, which focuses on applying Buddhist teachings and practices to social and political issues.

Overall, Buddhism's reaction to The Second World War reflected its emphasis on nonviolence and peace, as well as the challenges and opportunities faced by Buddhist leaders and communities during a time of global conflict.


Sikhism, a monotheistic religion founded in the 15th century in the Punjab region of India, played a significant role in The Second World War. Sikh soldiers fought for both the Allied and Axis powers, and their contributions were recognized with numerous awards for bravery and service.

One of the most notable Sikh leaders during The Second World War was Master Tara Singh, a prominent political and religious figure in British India who advocated for the rights of Sikhs and other minorities. Singh opposed British colonial rule and supported Indian independence, but he also saw the war as an opportunity for Sikhs to prove their loyalty and patriotism.

Sikh beliefs emphasize the importance of service, sacrifice, and justice, and these values were reflected in the actions of Sikh soldiers and communities during The Second World War. Sikh soldiers fought bravely on multiple fronts, including in North Africa, Italy, and Southeast Asia, and they were known for their fierce fighting spirit and distinctive turbans and beards.

Despite their many contributions, Sikh soldiers sadly also faced significant challenges during The Second World War, including discrimination and mistreatment by colonial authorities and other soldiers. Some Sikh soldiers were forced to compromise their religious beliefs by cutting their hair and beards or eating meat, which are forbidden in Sikhism.

Overall, the Sikh experience during The Second World War was complex and multifaceted, reflecting the diversity and dynamism of Sikh beliefs and communities. Sikh soldiers and leaders played important roles in the war effort, but they also faced significant challenges and obstacles along the way.


The six major religions each had their own unique perspectives on The Second World War and its aftermath. Christian leaders spoke out against the atrocities committed by the Nazis, while Muslim soldiers fought on both sides of the conflict.

Hindu leaders supported the war effort as a means of achieving independence from British colonial rule, while Jewish communities were devastated by the Holocaust. Buddhist leaders in Japan worked to rebuild after the war and promote peace, while Sikh soldiers fought on behalf of the British Empire and played a key role in the fight for Indian independence.

The impact of the war on these religions and their followers is still felt today, as communities continue to grapple with the aftermath of one of the most destructive conflicts in human history.

Further reading