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Azkaban escapes

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Despite generally being considered inescapable, Azkaban prison has seen at least four escapes, two of the mass-breakouts aided by Dementors.



The 1982 Azkaban escape occurred shortly after Barty Crouch Jr, Bellatrix, Rodolphus, and Rabastan Lestrange were sentenced to life imprisonment for the torture and permanent incapacitation of the Aurors Frank and Alice Longbottom. At the trial, Bartemius Crouch Sr., Barty’s father, was one of the judges. Barty begged his father to set him free, but Crouch Sr. felt betrayed by his son and thought he deserved to be punished and imprisoned. He gave his son a life term in Azkaban.

However, Barty’s mother, already dying at the time, persuaded her husband to use Polyjuice Potion to switch her for their son, in case any of the prisoners were watching through their cells. The Dementors, being blind, could not tell the difference. They only recognised a healthy person and a dying person (Barty Sr. and his wife) entering the fortress, and a healthy person and a dying person (Barty Sr. and his son) leaving. Mrs. Crouch, disguised as Barty, died a few days later and was buried outside the fortress still bearing her son's appearance.[1]

This was the first known escape in the history of Azkaban, though it was not known to the public until thirteen years later.


1993Escape DailyProphet

The Daily Prophet reporting Sirius Black's escape.

"He's at Hogwarts."
Sirius Black muttering in his sleep[src]

In 1992, Sirius Black escaped from Azkaban after seeing Scabbers in a Daily Prophet article, of the paper Cornelius Fudge gave him, in July 1992, recognising him as his traitorous former friend Peter Pettigrew. By 1 August, Black took advantage of his extreme weight loss to slip through his cell door in his Animagus dog form while the Dementors were bringing in his food and swam across the North Sea to find Pettigrew.[2]Black was able to maintain his sanity due to his knowledge of his innocence, a non-happy thought that the Dementors could not take. It was only this that allowed him to maintain his powers to transform, and what made the escape possible.

Sirius Black tower

Sirius Black locked in a jail cell.

This escape was the only known unaided escape, and officially the first one in Azkaban history (until Barty Crouch Jr.'s escape was revealed).

1996 mass breakout

"We have confirmed that ten high-security prisoners, in the early hours of yesterday evening, did escape. And of course, the Muggle Prime Minister has been alerted to the danger. We strongly suspect that the breakout was engineered by a man with personal experience in escaping from Azkaban; notorious mass murderer Sirius Black, cousin of the escapee Bellatrix Lestrange."
Cornelius Fudge interview to the Daily Prophet about the Azkaban mass breakout[src]
Daily Prophet Azkaban Breakout

The Daily Prophet announces the 1996 Azkaban escape.

In January 1996, a mass breakout from Azkaban set ten long-imprisoned Death Eaters loose. Lord Voldemort had little trouble arranging this, as many of the Dementors were happy to oblige his dark whims. The Daily Prophet, probably with encouragement from the Ministry of Magic, reported that the escaped criminal Sirius Black must be responsible for the incident. Most of the escapees, as well as a few other Death Eaters, would be returned to prison after the Battle of the Department of Mysteries.[3]

Known escapees

1997 mass breakout

"Scrimgeour doesn’t want to admit that You-Know-Who is as powerful as he is, nor that Azkaban's seen a mass breakout."
Arthur Weasley to Harry Potter shortly after the flight from Little Whinging[src]

Some time before 27 July, 1997, there was another mass breakout of Death Eaters from Azkaban, including all the escapees from the 1996 breakout who were re-imprisoned after the Ministry break-in, as well as others who had been imprisoned since. It was not reported to the public by the Ministry of Magic. Many of the escapees participated in the meeting at Malfoy Manor that summer, in the Battle of the Seven Potters, the Fall of the Ministry of Magic, and eventually the Battle of Hogwarts.[4]

Known escapees

Behind the scenes


Notes and references

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