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"A law that has us scuttling like rats in the gutter. A law that demands that we conceal our true nature. A law that directs those under its dominion to cower in fear, lest we risk discovery. I ask you, Madam President, I ask all of you - who does this law protect? Us, or them? I refuse to bow down any longer."
—Gellert Grindelwald[src]

Gellert Grindelwald (c. 1883March, 1998) was considered one of the most dangerous Dark Wizards of all time. A student at Durmstrang Institute, Grindelwald was expelled for conducting twisted, dark experiments. He later fostered a friendship with a young Albus Dumbledore, making plans to find the Deathly Hallows and lead a Wizarding revolution to end the International Statute of Secrecy, creating a benevolent hierarchical order led by wise and powerful witches and wizards that dominated Muggles. Their partnership fell apart after the two were involved in a three-way duel with Aberforth Dumbledore that resulted in Ariana Dumbledore's death.

Grindelwald left Britain and soon stole the Elder Wand from Mykew Gregorovitch, proceeding alone with the revolution he and Dumbledore had planned. He established a power base in continental Europe at the fortress Nurmengard. Grindelwald was a complex figure, highly idealistic and talented but marred by his links with the Dark Arts. A revolutionary operating outside the law, he and his followers committed numerous crimes, including several known murders. In 1945, at the height of his power, Dumbledore confronted and defeated him in a legendary duel. He was subsequently imprisoned in his own fortress for decades, and was slain there by Voldemort in 1998 when he refused to give up information on the location of the Elder Wand.


Early life

"Educated at Durmstrang, a school famous even then for its unfortunate tolerance of the Dark Arts, Grindelwald showed himself quite as precociously brilliant as Dumbledore. Rather than channel his abilities into the attainment of awards and prizes, however, Gellert Grindelwald devoted himself to other pursuits. When Grindelwald was sixteen years old, even Durmstrang felt it could no longer turn a blind eye to his twisted experiments and he was expelled."
The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore describing Grindelwald's school days[src]
Gellert Grindelwald school portrait

Grindelwald with his wand during his teenage years

Gellert Grindelwald was born around 1883.[1] He was educated at Durmstrang Institute, where he excelled at magic and absorbed much of the strength-obsessed and Dark Magic-flavoured school culture, while also running afoul of the school's rigid hierarchies. An extremely talented wizard with an attractive, winsome personality and a "merry, wild" disposition, Grindelwald also possessed an insidious streak and, like many before him, felt the pull of the Dark Arts. Dumbledore noted to Harry that 'twisted experiments' had been the reason for his expulsion from Durmstrang before graduating, but his mischievousness and disdain for rules probably played a role as well in such an authoritarian institution as Durmstrang. His darkly ambitious nature was apparent from a young age: he and Dumbledore discussed quite openly the idea of ruling Muggles as benevolent overlords, and suggestions were made to the effect that his experiments were too dark even for Durmstrang (a school with a dark reputation to begin with), thus leading to his expulsion.

Keenly interested in history, lore, and the powerful mystique of magical artefacts, Grindelwald became fascinated with the Deathly Hallows, to the point of appropriating their runic symbol as his own personal emblem and engraving it on the walls of Durmstrang prior to his departure. 

Friendship with Dumbledore

"He didn't like that. Grindelwald didn't like that at all. He got angry. He told me what a stupid little boy I was, trying to stand in the way of him and my brilliant brother... Didn't I understand, my poor sister wouldn't have to be hidden once they'd changed the world, and led the wizards out of hiding, and taught the Muggles their place? And there was an argument... and I pulled my wand, and he pulled out his...."
Aberforth Dumbledore reminiscing to the trio about his brother's past[src]

After expulsion, Gellert's quest for information about the Hallows led him to Godric's HollowEngland, where Ignotus Peverell, said to have been the first owner of Death's Cloak of Invisibility, had been laid to rest. Conveniently, his great-aunt, acclaimed wizarding historian Bathilda Bagshot, lived there and provided a place for him to stay, complete with a treasure trove of books and documents and a minimum of supervision. It was in Godric's Hollow in late 1898 or early 1899 that Grindelwald met and befriended Albus Dumbledore. The two teenagers had a lot in common: they were intellectuals and class-toppingly talented young wizards who were idealistic and ambitious. Albus, who felt trapped in a boring town out of familial obligation, gained a glamorous, attractive connection to the excitement of faraway places and things in Gellert. Gellert, an ego case, gained a powerful ally, complete with stimulating conversation, who didn't threaten his sense of control. It is clear that the pair were very close and the friendship was genuine on both sides. They shaped one another's ideas, powers, as well as destinies from that day forth.

They also shared two preoccupations. The Deathly Hallows held their fascination for many shared reasons, but their most fundamental reasons they didn't quite have in common. Gellert wanted (together with his friend) to acquire all three and wield the power of Master of Death.

They also dreamed of overturning the Statute of Secrecy and creating a new order in which wise and powerful wizards and witches were the benevolent overlords of their world, including Muggles. Again, Dumbledore's reasons were subtly different from Grindelwald's: as a young man, Dumbledore had witnessed and been powerless to stop a group of Muggle boys tormenting his younger sister, Ariana, to the point that the sweet-natured girl suffered an emotional breakdown and her repressed magic became dangerously unstable. Dumbledore's father was sent to Azkaban for taking revenge on the Muggle boys and his mother was killed in one of Ariana's accidents. He wanted power to protect his loved ones (and by extension the whole world) against cruelty and xenophobia like that shown by the Muggles. They coined the phrase that would become Grindelwald's slogan and the justification for his moral indiscretions and atrocities: "For the Greater Good."[5]

Dumbledore Grindelwald

Gellert Grindelwald with his friend Albus Dumbledore in 1899

The friends' plans to leave Godric's Hollow, acquire power, and begin their revolution turned serious. When Dumbledore's brother Aberforth became aware of this in the summer of 1899, he was disgusted with Albus's ambition, but was concerned about it as well, knowing that he and Ariana would need to be brought along as she would not receive the care and attention she needed to keep her stable. The tense situation boiled over into a confrontation and Grindelwald, enraged, inflicted the Cruciatus Curse on Aberforth. Albus moved to defend his brother, igniting a vicious three-way duel in which Ariana was accidentally killed. Aberforth and Albus were devastated. Presumably Grindelwald was also remorseful, as there is no evidence he was an emotionally cold person. Unwilling to face Albus, he fled the country and received putative blame for Ariana's death, thus confirming his place on the wrong side of the law and touching off his career as a Dark revolutionary, which would last until 1945

Rise to power

"In a list of Most Dangerous Dark Wizards of All Time, he'd miss out on the top spot only because You-Know-Who arrived, a generation later, to steal his crown."
The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore on Gellert's reputation[src]
Young Grindelwald - window ledge

Grindelwald steals the Elder Wand from Gregorovitch

Grindelwald delved into his research on the Deathly Hallows and uncovered the location of the Elder Wand. Rumours had been circulating that the renowned wandsmith Gregorovitch had the wand and was trying to duplicate its properties. Grindelwald broke into Gregorovitch's workshop, lay in wait for the wandmaker, stunned him, and stole the wand, thereby becoming its new master.[6][7]

International wizardhunt

"I will not be lectured by the man who let Gellert Grindelwald slip through his fingers!"
—Seraphina Picquery to Heinrich Eberstadt[src]
Grindelwald promo

Grindelwald evades capture

Following his acquisition of the Elder Wand Grindelwald began amassing an army of followers. Eventually he and his legions of "fanatics" launched several devastating attacks across Europe, committing mass-slaughter, and garnering international attention from wizarding authorities. Several of the attacks also drew the attention of the Muggle world, risking exposure and war. In response to Grindewald's actions an international wizardhunt ensued, and was reported on in periodicals such as the Daily Prophet and the The New York Ghost

At some point Grindelwald was almost captured, but was able to evade his pursuers, and disappear. Magical Congress of the United States of America President, Seraphina Picquery would later lay the blame for Grindelwald's escape on Heinrich Eberstadt, claiming that he had let the dark wizard "slip through his fingers".[8]

Impersonating Graves

"We've lived in the shadows for far too long."
—Gellert Grindelwald to Credence Barebone[src]

Unbeknownst to Picquery, Grindelwald had already infiltrated MACUSA by assuming the identity of her right-hand man Percival Graves. Grindelwald believed the mysterious attacks occurring in New York City to be the work of a powerful Obscurial, which he felt would be a great asset for his plans of world domination. Using his disguise as Graves, Grindelwald came into regular contact with Credence Barebone, whom he believed to be connected to the Obscurial due to a vision he received. Believing Credence was an orphaned Squib, Grindelwald manipulated him into helping him find the Obscurial with the promise of protecting him from his abusive adoptive mother and teaching him magic.

Grindelwald exposed

Grindelwald is unmasked by Newt Scamander

During this time, Grindelwald (as Graves) arrested Newt Scamander, whose escaped beasts were believed by MACUSA to be the cause of the Obscurial's attacks. During his interrogation, Grindelwald discovered the Obscurus within Newt's suitcase, and in an effort to hide his tracks, had him and Tina Goldstein sentenced to death. Afterwards, he approached Credence after Mary Lou Barebone was killed by the Obscurial and had him track down his adoptive sister Modesty Barebone, believing her to be the source of the Obscurial. Once they found Modesty, Grindelwald cruelly rejected Credence, as he had no further use of him. This angered Credence, who then revealed that he was the Obscurial, much to Grindelwald's surprise. Grindelwald attempted to convince Credence that he had nothing to fear any more and to join his ranks, but this further angered Credence who began rampaging through the city. After the Obscurial's death at the hands of the Aurors, Grindelwald was apprehended by Newt, who then revealed his real identity.

Will we die, just a little

Grindelwald is apprehended by MACUSA

Grindelwald eventually escaped and established a prison, Nurmengard, to serve as a form of containment for his enemies, apparently sufficiently impregnable that he was later imprisoned in it, inaccessible to his former supporters and breached only by Voldemort. In what few accounts of Grindelwald's revolution exist, his great power as a wizard is mentioned often, but there is less mention of his crimes. One murder is noted, that of Viktor Krum's grandfather, and presumably there were others.  

Fall from power and imprisonment

"...while I busied myself with the training of young wizards, Grindelwald was raising an army. They say he feared me, and perhaps he did, but less, I think, than I feared him... It was the truth I feared. You see, I never knew which of us, in that last, horrific fight, had actually cast the curse that killed my sister... I think he knew it, I think he knew what frightened me. I delayed meeting him until finally, it would have been too shameful to resist any longer. People were dying and he seemed unstoppable, and I had to do what I could."
Albus Dumbledore on Gellert's reign[src]
Grindelwald Nurmengard

Grindelwald in Nurmengard

Albus Dumbledore hesitated to confront Grindelwald, despite the belief held by many, including quite possibly both men themselves, that he was the only wizard skilful enough to stop his former friend. His reasons for hesitating may have included residual affection for his ex-flame, residual sympathy for his revolutionary goals, or shame over his role in shaping Grindelwald's revolution, but the reason Dumbledore himself gave Harry was that he was afraid Grindelwald knew better than he did who exactly was responsible for killing Ariana and he didn't want to find out. But Dumbledore, at this point about 63 years old and Head of Transfiguration at Hogwarts, was finally importuned by people who suffered from his former friend's actions to move against him. Eyewitnesses stated that it was the greatest duel ever fought between wizards. Dumbledore bested Grindelwald, becoming the master of the Elder Wand. He was convicted and imprisoned in the topmost cell of Nurmengard, where he spent the rest of his life until his murder by Voldemort.[7]


"Kill me, then. Voldemort, I welcome death! But my death will not bring you what you seek… There is so much you do not understand…."
—Grindelwald to Voldemort shortly before his death[src]
Grindlewald in his cell lol

Voldemort interrogates Grindelwald over the Elder Wand's location

Fifty-three years after his defeat, Grindelwald was slain in his prison cell by Voldemort, who was searching for the Elder Wand for himself. It was only during the confrontation in Grindelwald's cell that Voldemort learned Albus Dumbledore had claimed the wand long ago. Grindelwald showed no fear during this confrontation, taunting Voldemort by name and laughing at his desire for the wand. Voldemort ended Grindelwald's life with the Killing Curse in the spring of 1998.[9]

Physical appearance

As a young man, Grindelwald had golden blond hair and a "merry, wild" face. Harry Potter thought he had "a Fred and George-ish air of triumphant trickery about him".[10]

While he was middle aged, Grindelwald's hair was pale blond and shaved on the sides of his head giving him a sleek look; he also had a thin white moustache. His right eye grey, while his left was dark, and his face was pale.[3]

Near the end of his life, when Voldemort found him at the top of Nurmengard, Grindelwald was emaciated, a frail skeletal figure with a skull-like face, great sunken eyes, and wrinkled cheeks; most of his teeth were gone. 

Personality and traits

"They say he showed remorse in later years, alone in his cell at Nurmengard. I hope that is true. I would like to think that he did feel the horror and shame of what he had done. Perhaps that lie to Voldemort was his attempt to make amends... to prevent Voldemort from taking the Hallow..."
—Dumbledore discussing Grindelwald after his death[src]
Do you think you can hold me

Grindelwald in 1926

Grindelwald was charming and brilliant as a young wizard. His attraction to the Dark Arts, noted previously, was predictable given his personality and background, and not necessary malevolent in its initial stages.[11] He was highly intelligent, magically talented, idealistic, as well as ambitious to the point of ruthlessness, with a vicious temper: for example, when Aberforth Dumbledore challenged his and Albus's plans and tried to convince his brother to abandon them, Grindelwald "lost control" and used the Cruciatus Curse on Aberforth.[7] Some considered Grindelwald the most powerful Dark Wizard in history, aside from Lord Voldemort. Of course, history is very long indeed, and the most recent parts are often best remembered.[11]

Grindelwald was extremely arrogant and self-centred, but able to recognise talent in others and form (or pretend to form) close human connections. Judging by Aberforth's testimony, he had little interest in, or patience with, those he considered beneath him. He considered Albus Dumbledore an equal, for instance, but was dismissive of the less talented and intelligent Aberforth and the damaged Arianna and while disguised as Percival Graves he questioned to know why Dumbledore would have such faith in Newt Scamander while interrogating him. One example of Grindelwald's manipulative traits was by how he effortlessly exploited Credence Barebone by appealing to the boy in a way nobody else tried to, and offering to accept the boy into his ranks. Even after it became clear that Credence, as an Obscurial, was extremely powerful and phenomenally dangerous, Grindelwald calmly continued to try and exploit him. Grindelwald was idealistic to an extreme[12] even breaking his disguise in New York, expressing his disgust for being forced to hide from Muggles and attacking MACUSA wizards when they briefly apprehended him. He even arrogantly challenged their confidence in being able to contain a man of his reputation and power.

There is evidence that Grindelwald regained some perspective after his downfall. He held Voldemort in complete contempt, considering him a powerful idiot who understood nothing of importance. He also apparently lost his will to live in his long confinement. When, trapped and unarmed, Grindelwald faced certain death at the hands of the only Dark Wizard to ever be considered more dangerous than himself; he was openly defiant and even mocking, goading Voldemort into killing him. Indeed, he seemed to exhibit a grotesque remnant of the "merry, wild" temperament of his youth, as though glad he finally had someone interesting to talk to before his long-awaited death. His last words consisted of the dressing-down of Voldemort and a rather enthusiastic outlook on "the next great adventure" seems clear in its connection to his old friend, Albus Dumbledore

Perhaps due to his great skill and beliefs in his own superiority, Grindelwald rarely displayed fear. This is best shown during his aforementioned encounter with Lord Voldemort where he neither feared the Dark Lord's power or the likelihood of death. Like Voldemort, however, he did seem to have some fear of Albus Dumbledore, as he quickly fled the scene after Ariana was killed trying to intervene in a duel he started, and later in life when he refrained from attacking England despite his possession of the Elder Wand out of fear for his former friend. Dumbledore himself later told Harry that he believed that Grindelwald feared the possibility of duelling him. 

Magical abilities and skills

"Do you think you can hold me?"
—Grindelwald taunting MACUSA Aurors as he is captured[src]

Grindelwald a wizard of tremendous power, indeed, one of the greatest in history. As a former master of the Elder Wand, Grindelwald's already extremely formidable magic was further enhanced by the artefact's legendary powers, allowing him to perform spells more powerful than any believed to be magically possible otherwise.

  • Magical Mastery: Grindelwald was noted to be extremely talented and prodigiously skilled while still a student of Durmstrang Institute, and his skills, mastery, and understanding of magic, were considered to be on par with those of Albus Dumbledore, which induced the two young men to befriend one another. As an adult, Grindelwald was generally considered to be the most dangerous Dark Wizard who had ever existed, until Lord Voldemort emerged many years later. Grindelwald's frighteningly tremendous skills, further amplified by his mastery over the Elder Wand, would make him a seemingly unstoppable opponent. Grindelwald terrorised much of wizarding Europe, only being defeated by his former friend Dumbledore in a duel of legendary proportions. While Grindelwald ultimately lost the duel and mastery over the Elder Wand, it should be noted that he had been able to fight off Dumbledore at the height of the latter's power for three long hours, and Dumbledore himself would later admit that he had been only "a shade more skilful" than Grindelwald.
  • Dark Arts: Grindelwald had a talent and passion for the Dark Arts from a young age. In his school days, he experimented with Dark Arts on his fellow students at Durmstrang with lethal results and was expelled for it. Even while still seventeen, Grindelwald was already adept at casting the extremely powerful Cruciatus Curse, notably using it against Aberforth Dumbledore.

Grindelwald duelling Tina Goldstein

  • Duelling: Grindelwald was a duelist of tremendous skill. He quickly and effortlessly Stunned Gregorovitch in order to master the Elder Wand, fought a three-way duel with Albus and Aberforth Dumbledore when the three were young, and besting Newt Scamander and former Auror Tina Goldstein, even simultaneously fending off over ten Aurors at once, and beginning to incapacitate them one after the other in rapid succession before Newt managed to catch him off-guard by restraining his hands from behind. Ultimately, Grindelwald was even able to fight against Albus Dumbledore when the latter was at the height of his power: indeed their legendary duel has entered history as the greatest duel ever fought between two wizards. However, despite wielding the Elder Wand, Grindelwald was ultimately unable to defeat Dumbledore, who later remarked that it was because he had been "a shade more skilful" than Grindelwald, though it should be noted that even Dumbledore was only able to win after duelling Grindelwald for three hours straight, a testament to the latter's incredible duelling skill.
Grindelwald heals Credence

Grindelwald heals Credence Barebone's injuries

  • Charms: Grindelwald was extremely skilled in charms. Albus Dumbledore claimed that Grindelwald could render himself invisible without the use of an invisibility cloak. To achieve such a state, Grindelwald would have used an extremely powerful Disillusionment Charm, which is a tremendous feat, especially considering that Grindelwald was able to achieve it when he was only seventeen. As such, the Cloak of Invisibility would be the Hallow that Grindelwald was least interested in, and continued his search for it only because the Cloak completed the trio of legendary artefacts. Grindelwald's shield charm was also incredibly powerful, protecting him from a barrage of spells fired at him by over ten Aurors simultaneously.
  • Healing magic: Grindelwald had an understanding of healing charms, being able to heal the cuts on Credence Barebone's hands by touching them.
  • Potions: Grindelwald was proficient in potion-making being able to brew enough of the highly complex Polyjuice Potion to assume the identity of Percival Graves for an extended time without raising suspicions.[13]
  • Apparition: Like most adult wizards, Grindelwald was able to Apparate.
  • Wandless magic: Grindelwald was extremely skilled in wandless magic. He generated forceful shockwaves to move and otherwise exert force on people and objects using only hand gestures. He was able to break apart the ground near him to send the pieces of it flying at an opponent or even send an automobile flying across a street with a wave of his hand. He Summoned Newt Scamander's suitcase to him without using his wand, causing it to fly across a room and land next to him with a wave of his hand. In the same instance, he also lifted Newt Scamander from the ground from across the room and magically restrained him, Tina Goldstein and Jacob Kowalski simultaneously, before putting Newt back down on the floor. When interrogating Newt, he summoned the protective orb containing an Obscurus to his side by gesturing it forth. Aside from manipulating objects from a distance, he also caused the cuts on Credence Barebone's hands to vanish by putting his hand over them.


  • Gellert Grindelwald's wand: Grindelwald's original wand, notably used by him to permanently carve the Deathly Hallows symbol into the wall of Durmstrang Institute, and later used in the three-way duel between himself, Albus and Aberforth. Grindelwald's last known use of his wand was to stun Gregorovitch and attain mastery over the legendary Elder Wand.
  • Percival Graves's wand: While infiltrating the MACUSA in the guise of Percival Graves, Grindelwald wielded Graves' wand, which, while as yet unconfirmed, is likely to have been made by the American wand-maker Johannes Jonker, who was renowned for his recognisable trademark of having his wands inlaid with mother-of-pearl. Such a signature can be seen in all depictions of Graves' wand.
  • Elder Wand: Gindelwald wielded this wand, the most powerful wand in existence, known also as the "Wand of Destiny" or the "Deathstick", and one of the Deathly Hallows. He attained mastery of it after stunning Gregorovitch, but Grindelwald ultimately lost it at the end of his legendary duel with Albus Dumbledore.


Albus Dumbledore

"Did I know, in my heart of hearts, what Gellert Grindelwald was? I think I did, but I closed my eyes."
—Albus Dumbledore to Harry Potter, about his friendship with Gellert Grindelwald[src]
Albus Dumbledore (HBP promo) 1

Albus Dumbledore

Albus Dumbledore first met Grindelwald when he was seventeen. They were introduced by Grindelwald's great aunt, Bathilda Bagshot. They got along almost instantly, according to Bagshot. They had much in common, including the quest for the Deathly Hallows and edgy ideals about the structure of a wizard-led society. Dumbledore's romantic feelings towards Grindelwald went unrequited and indeed probably unrevealed, given the culture of the late 19th century, but their friendship was very close. But Grindelwald was a sociopath, and may have sensed that the depth of his friend's affection for him could be used to monopolise his attention and push his moral envelope.[12] They were very close for two months, making plans to find the Deathly Hallows and lead a wizarding revolution, but Albus neglected his younger siblings, Aberforth and Ariana, as a result. When Aberforth confronted the pair over this, Grindelwald lost his temper and attacked Aberforth. Albus rushed forward to defend his brother, and during the duel Ariana was killed. Grindelwald fled, his friendship with Albus over.

Over the next few decades, Grindelwald caused considerable havoc on behalf of his revolution and Dumbledore refused to face him out of fear that Grindelwald knew who had really killed Ariana. Grindelwald himself also seemed to fear the idea of facing Dumbledore. Eventually, however, Dumbledore could no longer stand idle with his former friend becoming an increasing source of terror on the continent. In 1945, Grindelwald combated Dumbledore for a second time in a legendary duel, said by eyewitnesses to be the greatest duel ever fought between wizards. Dumbledore won in the end, took possession of the Elder Wand, and imprisoned Grindelwald in his own prison, Nurmengard.

Many years later, in 1998, Grindelwald refused to give any information to Lord Voldemort about the Elder Wand despite the fact that he was imprisoned, wandless, and face-to-face with the only Dark Wizard ever considered more powerful than himself. This seems to indicate that Grindelwald no longer held with the views of those who practised the Dark Arts. It was speculated by Harry Potter that Grindelwald had given his life to prevent Voldemort from desecrating Dumbledore's tomb, perhaps indicating that Grindelwald retained some respect and affection for his old friend.

Aberforth Dumbledore


Aberforth Dumbledore

Aberforth disliked Grindelwald immensely, as he was Albus's friend after Hogwarts. While Aberforth was taking care of Ariana, Albus and Grindelwald were planning to enslave the Muggles. As the two boys were planning to travel around the world, they also planned to take Ariana with them. Aberforth opposed them, telling them that he would be able to take care of Ariana once more. Grindelwald became very angry and used the Cruciatus Curse on Aberforth; Albus then defended his brother and the three boys had a duel, in which Ariana was accidentally killed. Grindelwald escaped and left the country. Aberforth retained bitter memories towards Grindelwald for many years after their fateful encounter, and when he recounted the events that led to his sister's death Harry noted the "positively dangerous" look that came over his face when Grindelwald's name was mentioned.[14]

Lord Voldemort



It's unknown if the two met before 1998. By the time Voldemort visited Grindelwald in his Nurmengard prison in 1998, Grindelwald seemed to know all about him and claimed that he knew that Voldemort would one day visit him to seek out the Elder Wand. Despite Grindelwald's smugness and status as a once great Dark Wizard, Voldemort treated him as merely another person to interrogate in his search for the wand. Grindelwald likewise showed no fear toward the dark lord and laughed scornfully, challenging Voldemort to kill him, much to the latter's fury. Grindelwald told Voldemort that he would never be able to master the Elder Wand. Voldemort killed Grindelwald, furious at his inability to gain information from the former master of the Elder Wand.

Newton Scamander


Grindelwald interrogates Scamander in the guise of Percival Graves

Grindelwald had few interactions with the gifted Magizoologist (and mostly disguised as Percival Graves), but held him in clear disdain and mockery despite Newt overpowering and revealing him to the MACUSA. Grindelwald did everything in his power to have Newt take the blame for the Obscurial deaths and nearly had him executed, Grindelwald also revealed to Tina Goldstein that Newt had been expelled from Hogwarts for nearly killing a student in a experiment. Grindelwald was also curious as to why Dumbledore had stood for up for Newt but the young wizard refused to answer him. When Newt intervened in Grindelwald's plan to acquire Credence Barebone, Grindelwald dropped all pretence and attempted to kill Newt duelling with him ferociously, even torturing Newt with lightning spells. Newt managed to capture Grindelwald by use of Swooping Evil and revealed his true identity to MACUSA, before being carried off Grindelwald turned to Newt and said mysteriously "Will we die, just a little?" at which Newt didn't respond.

Credence Barebone


Grindelwald manipulated Credence Barebone during his search for the Obscurus

Grindelwald used Credence to try and locate the Obscurial and tossed him aside when he thought he had obtained his goal (assuming he was a Squib). When it was revealed that Credence was the Obscurial, he offered to train him, but Credence declined having been heart broken by the older wizard. He continued to attempt to recruit Credence until he vanished after being attacked by many Aurors.


  • Gellert is the Hungarian version of Gerard, which comes from the Germanic ger, "spear", as well as hard, "brave, hardy". Saint Gellert was an Italian-born missionary and martyr who worked in Hungary.[15]
  • Gellért Hill is a high hill overlooking the Danube in Budapest, Hungary. Gellért Hill was named after Saint Gerard who was thrown to death from the hill. The famous Hotel Gellért and the Gellért Baths can be found in Gellért Square at the foot of the hill. The Gellért Hill Cave is located within the hill, facing toward Hotel Gellért and the Danube River.
  • Grindel is old German for "bolt," and is also similar to the mythic monster Grendel who was defeated by Beowulf. This forms a parallel with Albus Dumbledore, whose middle name is "Wulfric". Wald is German for "forest". Grindelwald is also the name of a ski resort in Switzerland.
  • It is of interesting but purely speculative note that the name Gellert is very close to the name Gelert, the name of a legendary dog of cultural, but little historical, significance to Northern Wales. According to local mythology, Gelert was the most faithful companion of Prince Llewelyn, mistaken for the assailant of the prince's infant heir. His "grave" is a site in Beddgelert (literally Gelert's Grave), Gwynedd, as well as the legend is popular in the area.
  • In German, wald is "forest." Grind is a scab, as in the hardened covering over a scar, could also be grinsen, a grin or big smile. The words grindel or grendel appeared in early versions of several Germanic languages, including English. Grindan in Old English meant "to grind," and further "destroyer," someone who grinds up others. In Middle English, grindel meant "angry." In Old Norse, grindill was taken from "storm," and also meant "to bellow," or produce a loud, frightening yell. In Danish legend, the Grendel was a fearsome, murderous monster of humanoid form. He was later defeated by the Scandinavian hero Beowulf in the medieval story of the same name.

Behind the scenes

  • Grindelwald is portrayed by Johnny Depp in the first and second instalment of the Fantastic Beasts film series. Since Grindelwald spends most of the first film disguised as Percival Graves, Colin Farrell portrays him in those scenes.
  • British actor Jamie Campbell Bower portrays the young Gellert Grindelwald in the film adaptations of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,[16] whereas Michael Byrne portrays the character as an old man.[17]
  • In a 2005 interview around the same time Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was published, Rowling stated that it was not a coincidence that he was defeated in 1945, hinting at a connection with Adolf Hitler and at least the European front of World War II[18]. Grindelwald seems to be the wizarding version of Adolf Hitler. As referenced by Rowling, the date of Grindelwald's duel with Dumbledore coincides with the downfall of Nazi Germany. There are other similarities as well. Grindelwald adopted an ancient symbol as his sigil (the symbol of the Deathly Hallows) just as the Nazis adopted the manji, switching its facing to create the swastika, itself an ancient symbol. Furthermore, the prison Nurmengard shares a similar name to the Franconian city of Nuremberg, where war criminal trials of former Nazis were held. Nurmengard's dual role as prison to both the victims and later the perpetrator may be a reference to Nuremberg's dual significance in World War II, which, aside from being the site of the Nuremberg Trials, was also the site of the proposal and adoption of the Nuremberg Laws, infamous discriminatory laws against Jewish people. Nurmengard also bears a sign that reads "For the Greater Good", which may correspond to the infamous "Arbeit Macht Frei" sign (German for "Work Makes [One] Free") which hung above the entrance to Auschwitz. Grindelwald's eventual sole imprisonment in his own prison is possibly a reference to the fate of Rudolf Hess, who from 1966 until his death in 1987 was the sole prisoner of Spandau prison. But the reader should beware imagining too close of a connection, as J.K Rowling probably used Muggle history as a jumping off point for her imagined Wizarding history but didn't intend to create a deep, multi-layered metaphor and instead chose to go in her own direction.
  • It was revealed by J. K. Rowling during a tour in 2007 that Albus Dumbledore was homosexual, as well as harboured romantic feelings for Grindelwald[19]. Although she did not initially comment on Grindelwald's sexuality, Rowling later clarified that although Grindelwald was aware of Dumbledore's feelings, he merely used them to manipulate the other boy and did not reciprocate romantically.[12]
  • Despite being expelled from school, Grindelwald never had his wand confiscated and destroyed, as he had it with him when planning for the revolution and attacking Gregorovitch for the Elder Wand, although he might have simply found another wand as replacement. It is possible that the wizarding law of Grindelwald's home country allowed him to keep his wand after expulsion.
  • In a 2005 interview around the same time Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was published, Rowling stated that Grindelwald was dead[20]. However, it was revealed in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows that he was still alive and imprisoned in Nurmengard. This would indicate that Grindelwald's inclusion in the novel was a late decision.
  • In the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Grindelwald's historical significance is not explained in the slightest. Also, it appears that Voldemort doesn't kill Grindelwald, but simply leaves the prison room. It isn't made clear whether he killed him or not in the film.


See also

The Harry Potter Wiki has 36 images related to Gellert Grindelwald.

Notes and references

  1. 1.0 1.1 In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 18 (The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore), Rita Skeeter says Grindelwald was expelled from Durmstrang at age sixteen, and it was not much time after that that he travelled to Godric's Hollow where he met Albus Dumbledore. This happened in the summer of 1899, immediately after Dumbledore graduated from Hogwarts.
  2. Durmstrang does not admit Muggle-born students, and he has a witch for a great aunt.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (film)
  4. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1
  5. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 18 (The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore) - letter from Albus to Gellert
  6. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 24 (The Wandmaker)
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 35 (King's Cross)
  8. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (film) (see this image)
  9. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 23 (Malfoy Manor)
  10. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 14 (The Thief)
  11. 11.0 11.1 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 18 (The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore)
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 "Daily News"
  13. Snitchseeker - 'Fantastic Beasts' David Heyman reveals Graves' & Colin Farrell's futures in series
  14. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 28 (The Missing Mirror)
  15. Behind the Name: Gellert
  16. Jamie's a bachelor of (dark) arts
  18. "The Leaky Cauldron and Mugglenet interview Joanne Kathleen Rowling: Part Three," The Leaky Cauldron 16 July2005
  19. "Is Dumbledore Gay? Depends on Definitions of ‘Is’ and ‘Gay’"
  20. "The Leaky Cauldron and Mugglenet interview Joanne Kathleen Rowling: Part Three," The Leaky Cauldron 16 July 2005

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