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"For the Greater Good."
—Gellert Grindelwald's slogan that was over Nurmengard's Gate[src]

Gellert Grindelwald (c. 1882March, 1998) was considered one of the most dangerous Dark Wizards of all time. Many believed him to be the greatest and most powerful Dark Wizard of history, so much so that even Britain, one of the few European countries Grindelwald had avoided, considered him one of the most dangerous wizards in history, second only to Lord Voldemort, their own resident Dark Lord. He was schooled at Durmstrang Institute until his expulsion, as a result of his twisted, dark experiments upon fellow students. Later he fostered a friendship with Albus Dumbledore while living in Godric's Hollow for a summer with his great-aunt, Bathilda Bagshot. The two made plans to find the Deathly Hallows and wield their new-found power as Masters of Death, leading a Wizarding revolution with the aim of ending the International Statute of Secrecy and creating a benevolent global 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 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 but marred by sociopathic tendencies and his links with the Dark Arts, a revolutionary operating outside the law. He was not a wanton killer or torturer, but he and his followers (in a single-minded and unpopular quest; one's allies must often be unsavoury characters) committed numerous crimes, including several known murders and eventually genocide. In 1945, at the height of his power, Dumbledore confronted and defeated him in a legendary duel. Grindelwald 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 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. At sixteen years old, even Durmstrang felt it could no longer turn a blind eye to the twisted experiments of Gellert Grindelwald and he was expelled."
The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore describing Grindelwald's school days[src]
Gellert Grindelwald school portrait

Gellert Grindelwald posing for his Durmstrang school portrait

Gellert Grindelwald was born around 1882, possibly in Hungary or Central or Eastern Europe. He was educated at the Durmstrang Institute, where he excelled at magic and absorbed much of the strength-obsessed and Darkness-flavoured school culture, but ran afoul of its rigid hierarchies. An extremely talented wizard with an attractive, winsome personality and "merry, wild" disposition, he, like many similar others, felt the pull of the Dark Arts. As a Durmstrang student, he was taught that the Dark Arts are a means to an end, a powerful and mysterious tool for a strong-willed young wizard to use to achieve his ends, as well as not adequately convinced of their tendency to lead down a dark path of moral deterioration. Dumbledore described 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. 

Keenly interested in history, lore, and the power of magical artefacts, he 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]
Tumblr n37pvdocF11s2dr3ro8 r1 250

A picture of Gellert in his great-aunt Bathilda Bagshot's house

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 shared 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, with the controlling motive common to many sociopaths — no one else can be trusted, the only way to assure things stay good is to take control for oneself, the only way to take control is to be strong. Dumbledore's heart yearned for one Hallow in particular — the Resurrection Stone, which he believed could bring back his deceased parents and other lost loved ones.

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: as a young man, he 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. This resulted in his father being sent to Azkaban for taking revenge on the Muggle boys and his mother being 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."[3]

Gellert Grindelwald and Albus Dumbledore

Gellert Grindelwald with his friend Albus Dumbledore

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 Dark 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 Gellert Grindelwald

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, laid in wait for the wandmaker to return, Stunned him, and stole the wand, thereby becoming its new master. He had probably gotten the idea that the old owner of the wand need not be killed in order for it to recognise a new master from Dumbledore, as the prevailing interpretation of the lore at the time was that ownership passed only by murder.[4][5]


Grindelwald from behind

The extent of Grindelwald's success in his revolutionary endeavours is unclear, but his activities gathered international attention and was reported in American wizarding newspapers.[6] In 1926, MACUSA president Seraphina Picquery grew concerned about a threat to the Statute of Secrecy and believed that Grindelwald may be responsible, something which she would have considered an "act of war", showing how serious Grindelwald's reputation was being percieved in America.[7]

Grindelwald eventually succeeded in creating 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, making it comparable to the infamous Muggle prison, Colditz Castle. It is likely, but unconfirmed, that he succeeded in toppling some wizarding governments — however it is not made clear — he did not at least, seem to make much of a dent in the Statute of Secrecy, as it remained stubbornly intact (though the European theatre Muggle World War II was certainly a sufficiently chaotic and violent time to hide some serious breaches). It is also possible he chose to reveal himself to the Muggles only when he ruled Europe. 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. Though he certainly wasn't as blatantly murderous as Voldemort, allusions made to his rise to power suggest that he was operating on a grand scale: Dumbledore, for instance, referred to his building an army and unlike Voldemort, he felt secure enough to build a prison. He was also noted to be capable of darkness from a young age: he and Dumbledore discussed quite openly the idea of ruling Muggles as benevolent overlords, and suggestions were made to the fact that his experiments were too dark even for Durmstrang, a school with a dark reputation to begin with, leading to his expulsion. 

Fall from power and life 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 rein[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 and sending his defeated foe back to his homeland, where he was tried. He was convicted and imprisoned in the topmost cell of Nurmengard, where he spent the rest of his life until his murder by Voldemort.[5]


"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]
Grindelwald and Voldemort

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.[8]

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".[9]

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

Personality and traits

Harry Potter: "Grindelwald tried to stop Voldemort going after the wand. He lied, you know, pretended he had never had it."
Albus Dumbledore: "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 . . ."
Harry Potter: ". . .or maybe from breaking into your tomb?"
Harry Potter and Albus Dumbledore discussing Grindelwald after his death[src]

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.[10] 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.[5] 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.[10]

Grindelwald was extremely arrogant and self-centred, but able to recognise talent in others and form (or pretend to form) close human connections. In comparison to the "stupid" evil exhibited by some beings such as trolls, the "officious" evil exhibited by the likes of Dolores Umbridge, or the "chaotic", "narcissistic" evil characteristic of Voldemort, Grindelwald is probably best understood in terms of sociopathy. He was filled with intrinsic manipulative traits and the willingness to use them for his own purposes, as well as a malleable moral compass. 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. Grindelwald was idealistic to an extreme, and was possibly a Pure-blood supremacist as well as a Muggle-hater. He had absolutely no complaints about the murder of hundreds of innocent people who, from his perspective, were lesser than he. That being said, he did understand at least the rudiments of how death affected other people, judging from the fact that he fled in fear of his life after the intense duel between him, Dumbledore and Aberforth which resulted in Ariana's death. [11]


Grindelwald as an old man

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. Similar to Voldemort however he did seem to have some level of 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. 

Some consider Grindelwald to have been an unambiguously evil Dark Wizard, more or less a Voldemort-before-Voldemort. But there are two pieces of evidence that suggest otherwise. First, his decision to stun Gregorovitch, not kill, when he acquired the Elder Wand hints at a willingness not to kill simply as a matter of course. However, this might have been a calculated decision, perhaps considering that people were more likely to give credence to Gregorovitch's claims that he'd had the Elder Wand if he was murdered, as that was the traditional method of passing it on.[10] Second, part of his motivation for refusing to give Voldemort any information about the Elder Wand may have been a desire to prevent Dumbledore's tomb from being desecrated, or even out of remorse for his own crimes. Alternatively, he may have merely wanted to taunt Voldemort.[5]

Magical abilities and skills

"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."
—A line from The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore about Grindelwald[src]

Grindelwald was brilliantly talented while a student and later as an adult. His skills in magic are comparable with Albus Dumbledore and Voldemort, the latter of whom he may even have exceeded in power, making him an extremely powerful wizard. As a former master of the Elder Wand, Grindelwald's magic was further enforced by the artefact's legendary powers.

  • 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 friends at Durmstrang. His experiments in Dark Arts were almost lethal, even in his youth. As an adult, he nearly perfected almost every aspect of Dark magic which led him on top of the list of The Most Dangerous Dark Wizards of All Time, long before Lord Voldemort appeared. Grindelwald was adept at casting the Cruciatus Curse, and utilised it on at least on one occasion against Aberforth Dumbledore, notably when the former was only sixteen or seventeen years old.
  • Duelling: Grindelwald was a highly skilled duellist, able to fight with Albus Dumbledore when he was at the height of his power: their duel has entered history as the greatest duel ever fought between two wizards. He was also able to quickly stun Gregorovitch in order to master the Elder Wand. He also duelled both Albus and Aberforth when the three were young. He defeated and killed many powerful witches and wizards in duels during his reign of terror in Europe. However, Grindelwald was ultimately unable to defeat Albus, despite the fact that Grindelwald was wielding the Elder Wand at the time. Albus described himself as "a shade more skilful" than Grindelwald.
  • Knowledge of Wandlore: Grindelwald was aware that to take control of the Elder Wand he needed to not just steal the wand, but defeat the previous owner.
  • Invisibility: Albus Dumbledore said that Grindelwald could make himself invisible without the use of an invisibility cloak: to achieve such a state, Grindelwald would have used an extremely powerful Disillusionment Charm. It should be noted that he was able to achieve this feat when he was only a teenager.
  • Occlumency: Grindelwald was an extremely accomplished Occlumens, as even Voldemort, who has gained the reputation to be the most accomplished Legilimens alive, was unable to penetrate his mind to gain information for the search of the Elder Wand.


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.[11] 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, as well as 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 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. Then 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 by one of them. 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.[12]

Lord Voldemort

It's unknown if the two met prior, however 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 will 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.


  • 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.[13]
  • 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

  • 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[14]. 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.

A still of a promotional featurette showing a blond wizard (possibly Grindelwald) in the upcoming film version of 'Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

  • It has been hinted that Grindelwald might make an appearance in the upcoming film version of 'Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. A mysterious blond man (see image to the right) has appeared in a promotional featurette attacking a group of wizards.
  • 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[15]. 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.[11]
  • 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[16]. 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.
  • British actor Jamie Campbell Bower portrays the young Gellert Grindelwald in the film adaptations of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows[17], whereas Michael Byrne portrays the character as an old man.[18]
  • 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 crystal clear whether he killed him or not in the film.
  • It is unknown as to why Grindelwald is considered less of a Dark Lord than Voldemort as Voldemort himself is only known to terrorise Britain while Grindelwald terrorised all of Europe (One possibility is that his lower position is strictly in Britain's viewpoint, or simply because Voldemort's campaign of darkness is more recent and so is more heavily etched in the public memory). It could also be due to their differing goals: Grindelwald merely wanted to dominate and rule Muggles, whereas Voldemort wished to kill them outright, along with anyone he considered not of pure blood. Grindelwald's power was certainly equal to, if not greater than, Voldemort, and even Dumbeldore considered Grindelwald his equal in skill, while Voldemort was always considered slightly below Dumbeldore. Voldemort is, at least in Britain, considered more dangerous, evil and perhaps more powerful than Grindelwald, so perhaps Voldemort is truly more powerful, although Grindelwald was likely wiser and more knowledgable, at least on certain areas of magic, such as love.


See also

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Notes and references

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