Gellert Grindelwald (c. 1883 – March 1998) was a wizard who was considered to be among the most powerful and dangerous Dark Wizards of all time, second only to Lord Voldemort. He was amongst the greatest wizards to have ever lived, often considered to be the third most powerful wizard in history, his only superiors being Tom Riddle and Albus Dumbledore. A student at Durmstrang Institute, Grindelwald was expelled for twisted, dark experiments and near-fatal attacks on students.
After leaving Durmstrang, he fostered a romantic relationship 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 global hierarchical order led by wise and powerful witches and wizards that dominated Muggles. At seventeen, their partnership fell apart after the two were involved in a three-way duel with Dumbledore's brother Aberforth that resulted in the death of Dumbledore's sister Ariana. Grindelwald left Britain and later stole the Elder Wand from Mykew Gregorovitch, proceeding alone with the revolution he and Dumbledore had planned.
Grindelwald was a complex figure, highly idealistic and talented, dedicated to achieve his ends at any cost. A revolutionary operating outside the law, he and his followers committed numerous crimes, including several murders. With violent acts in both the United States and Europe, Grindelwald ultimately established a power base at Nurmengard Castle in Austria. In 1945, at the height of Grindelwald's 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 Lord Voldemort in 1998 when he refused to give up the location of the Elder Wand.
- 1 Biography
- 1.1 Early life (1880s–1890s)
- 1.2 Relationship with Dumbledore (1899)
- 1.3 Rise to power (1910s–1930s)
- 1.4 Global wizarding war (1930s–1945)
- 1.5 Imprisonment and death (1945–1998)
- 1.6 Legacy (1998)
- 2 Physical appearance
- 3 Personality and traits
- 4 Magical abilities and skills
- 5 Possessions
- 6 Relationships
- 7 See also
- 8 Etymology
- 9 Behind the scenes
- 10 Appearances
- 11 Notes and references
Early life (1880s–1890s)
- "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 was born around 1882 or 1883, and was educated at Durmstrang Institute during his formative years, where he excelled in various fields of magic and absorbed much of the school's strength-obsessed, Dark Magic-oriented culture. He was an extremely talented wizard who possessed an attractive and winsome personality, which was coupled with a "merry, wild" disposition.
At some point in his youth, Grindelwald, who was a natural born Seer, had a vision where he saw himself rise to dominance over the wizarding world, and when he learned of the fabled Deathly Hallows; three fabled objects which, if united, would make the possessor the Master of Death, he quickly came to see the Quest as instrumental to fulfill the aforementioned prediction. Over the course of his school career, Grindelwald grew increasingly obsessed with learning whatever he could about the three items in question, to the point of appropriating the runic symbol that represented them as his own personal emblem; and even engraved it on the walls of Durmstrang prior to his departure. These engravings persisted for many generations, and Rita Skeeter's book The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore explains that Grindelwald's 'twisted experiments' had been the reason for his expulsion at 16 years old from Durmstrang before he could graduate. This was an ominous and troubling sign, as it meant that Grindelwald performed experiments that were too disturbing even for a school with a notably high tolerance of the Dark Arts.
Relationship with Dumbledore (1899)
- "Grindelwald. You cannot imagine how his ideas caught me, Harry, inflamed me. Muggles forced into subservience. We wizards triumphant. Grindelwald and I, the glorious young leaders of the revolution. Oh, I had a few scruples. I assuaged my conscience with empty words. It would all be for the greater good, and any harm done would be repaid a hundredfold in benefits for wizards. Did I know, in my heart of hearts, what Gellert Grindelwald was? I think I did, but I closed my eyes."
- — Dumbledore recounting his relationship with Gellert[src]
After his expulsion from Durmstrang, Grindelwald's quest for information about the Hallows led him to Godric's Hollow, England, 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 the summer of 1899 that Grindelwald met and befriended Albus Dumbledore. The two teenagers had a lot in common: they were intellectuals and talented young wizards, who were also idealistic and ambitious. The pair even became lovers during the two months that they knew one another. Following these “two months of insanity,” as Dumbledore would later recall them to be, the two teens shaped one another's ideas, powers, as well as destinies from that day forth and became intertwined with each other. Whilst they were staying at Bathilda Bagshot's house, they also made a blood pact, swearing never to fight each other.
The pair shared two preoccupations: The first was their search for the Deathly Hallows toward the goal of acquiring all three and wielding their power to become a Master of Death, which they believed to mean immortality and invincibility. They also dreamed of overturning the International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy and creating a new order in which wise and powerful wizards and witches were the benevolent overlords of their world, including Muggles. Dumbledore coined the phrase "For the Greater Good" that would be used to justify the necessary use of force required to achieve their goals, and Grindelwald would later adopt as his motto.
However, Dumbledore's motivations and intentions were different from Grindelwald's: as a young man, he had 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 boys and his mother was killed in one of Ariana's accidents. Dumbledore wanted the power to protect his loved ones (and by extension the whole world) against cruelty and xenophobia like that shown by the Muggles. He viewed the Resurrection Stone as a way of returning his parents to life and relieving him of his new familial obligations, while Grindelwald mistakenly viewed it as a tool to amass an army of inferi.
Their plans to leave Godric's Hollow, acquire power, and begin their revolution turned serious. When Dumbledore's brother Aberforth became aware of this, he was both concerned about and disgusted with Albus's ambition, 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 killed. Grindelwald 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 (1910s–1930s)
Theft of the Elder Wand
- "It was stolen from me... it was a boy, it was he who took it. I never saw it again."
- — Gregorovitch to Lord Voldemort on Grindelwald's theft[src]
Grindelwald delved into his research on the Deathly Hallows and uncovered the location of the Elder Wand. Rumours had been circulating that the renowned Wandmaker Mykew Gregorovitch was in possession of 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. Grindelwald's research may have uncovered this unconventional path to ownership of the wand as the common interpretation was that ownership passed only by murder.
- "I will not be lectured by the man who let Gellert Grindelwald slip through his fingers!"
- — Seraphina Picquery to Heinrich Eberstadt[src]
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 Grindelwald'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 in 1926, while Grindelwald was staying in a derelict château somewhere in Europe, the International Confederation of Wizards discovered this château and almost captured him, but he was able to evade his pursuers and disappear. President Seraphina Picquery of the Magical Congress of the United States of America (MACUSA) would later lay the blame for Grindelwald's escape on Heinrich Eberstadt, claiming that he had let the dark wizard "slip through his fingers". He also established a prison in Austria, Nurmengard, to serve as a form of containment for his enemies. During this period, he was also known to have personally murdered several people; one victim was identified as Viktor Krum's grandfather.
As Grindelwald's power grew, he began to make plans for the confrontation he knew would happen one day; a confrontation with his old friend and the only wizard in the world believed to be powerful enough to defeat him: Albus Dumbledore. Unknown to the rest of the wizarding community, neither Dumbledore nor Grindelwald could fight each other directly, which was the result of the blood pact they had formed in their youth. However, Grindelwald knew that Dumbledore was powerful enough to compromise his plans without fighting him directly, a threat he made clear to all his followers. Seeking a means to defeat Dumbledore without having to fight him personally, Grindelwald saw visions of an extraordinarily powerful Obscurus terrorising New York. Knowing that an Obscurial of such destructive capability could be the only being apart from himself possibly powerful enough to kill Dumbledore, Grindelwald left Europe for America to find and recruit the child to his cause.
Grindelwald's disappearance was noted by many newspapers around the wizarding world, who were concerned at the absence of news about the Dark wizard. He was allegedly spotted in Bratislava sometime before 20th November 1926.
Impersonating Percival Graves
- "We've lived in the shadows for far too long."
- — Gellert Grindelwald to Credence Barebone[src]
In December of 1926, unbeknownst to Picquery, Grindelwald had already infiltrated MACUSA by assuming the identity of her right-hand man Percival Graves using human transfiguration, whom Grindelwald managed to subdue. Grindelwald believed 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, believing him to be connected to the Obscurial due to a vision he received. Thinking Credence was an orphaned Squib, Grindelwald emotionally manipulated him into helping him find the Obscurial with the promise of protecting him from his abusive adoptive mother and teaching him magic.
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. He then approached Credence after Mary Lou Barebone was killed by the Obscurial and had him track down his adoptive sister Modesty, believing her to be the source of the Obscurus. 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, as no Obscurial had survived to more than 10 years old, more than 15 years younger than Credence's age.
Grindelwald wanted to use him to expose the North American wizarding community, and create a weapon against Dumbledore. He attempted to convince Credence that he had nothing to fear anymore and to join his ranks, but this further angered Credence, who began rampaging through the city. Grindelwald was not easily deterred, however, and continued to try to recruit Credence, clashing with Tina and later Newt, both of whom he easily overpowered. When Grindelwald, Newt, and Tina were finally close to calming down Credence, Picquery and her Aurors appeared on the scene and immediately attacked the Obscurus.
With Credence being seemingly destroyed at the Aurors' hands, Grindelwald was so beside himself with rage that he, led by his extreme idealism, began to break his disguise while expressing his utter disgust for being forced to hide from the Muggles. Picquery subsequently ordered the other Aurors to bring "Graves" in, but Grindelwald, no longer suppressing his tremendous magical prowess, started to overwhelm them despite being outnumbered at least twenty to one. However, Newt finally managed to catch him off-guard with his Swooping Evil and restrained Grindelwald's hands from behind, while Tina used a Summoning Charm to take Graves' wand.
Newt then cast the Revelio Charm, making Grindelwald's disguise fade away while revealing his identity. Even apprehended, Grindelwald was unfazed, arrogantly questioning Picquery's ability to contain a wizard of his reputation and power. As he was led away, Grindelwald met Newt's gaze and mysteriously asked him: "Will we die, just a little?"
Escape from MACUSA
- "You've joined a noble cause, my friend."
- — Grindelwald praising Abernathy[src]
Six months after Grindelwald was captured by Newt Scamander, he was supposed to be transported from MACUSA Prison to Europe by Rudolph Spielman and Aurors to answer for crimes he committed. Because of his gift of persuasion, they had his tongue cut out, as several guards had sided with him. Unbeknownst to Picquery, Spielman and several others, Abernathy, MACUSA's employee, was one of Grindelwald's acolytes. A few moments before escorting the dark wizard, Abernathy went to Grindelwald's cell and they both assumed each other's identity by using Polyjuice Potion. When the carriage with the false Grindelwald set off, Grindelwald (as Abernathy) Disapparated from the MACUSA platform and Apparated underneath the carriage. When the two wizards reverted back to their true identities, Grindelwald Apparated onto the carriage and killed the Aurors escorting the carriage. He filled the carriage with water to stop the ongoing struggle inside as they realised that Abernathy had taken Grindelwald's place, killed Aurors who had followed them, and then entered the carriage and blasted Spielman into the waters of New York Bay, before flying to Europe with his lieutenant.
Search for Credence Barebone
Three months later, Grindelwald, alongside his acolytes, travelled to Paris to search again for Credence Barebone, who had survived the the battle in New York, in order to utilise his abilities to kill Albus Dumbledore. They walked on Boulevard Haussmann, where he pointed his cane at an apartment and waited patiently, tapping his cane on the street, for his subordinates to assassinate a couple in order to take over their apartment as a temporary headquarters. He watched as his acolytes carried out two coffins containing the couple, putting them into a horse-drawn hearse carriage. Stepping inside with his most trusted follower, Vinda Rosier, Grindelwald stated that the place was "suitable" before sending one of his acolytes to the Circus Arcanus to seek out Credence. He also reminded Vinda that death was not to be the fate of all non-magic people. Soon after, they then heard a toddler calling to his slaughtered parents and reluctantly directed Carrow to kill him.
During this time, Grindelwald urged Queenie Goldstein and bounty hunter Gunnar Grimmson to join his cause, which worked on Queenie due to her relationship with No-Maj Jacob Kowalski and due to Vinda emotionally exploiting her beforehand. Grindelwald ordered Grimmson to kill Irma Dugard in order to keep Credence's identity a secret from him. After the murder, he met with Gunnar in an alleyway, and talked about how Credence took the murder of Irma and how he should join the Alliance.
Grindelwald himself later found Credence on the rooftop of the attic of 18 Rue Philippe Lorand and offered him a chance to find out his true parentage, and gave him a map to the Cimetière du Père-Lachaise.
Rally in the Lestrange Mausoleum
- "You came today because of a craving and a knowledge that the old ways serve us no longer...you come today because you crave something new, something different. It is said that I hate Les Non-Magiques. The Muggles. The No-Maj. The Can't-Spells. I do not hate them. I do not. For I do not fight out of hatred. I say the Muggles are not lesser, but other. Not worthless, but of other value. Not disposable, but of a different disposition. Magic blooms only in rare souls. It is granted to those who live for higher things. Oh, and what a world we could make, for all of humanity. We who live for freedom, for truth and for love..."
- — Grindelwald's speech to his followers[src]
One evening, Grindelwald called a meeting for his followers in the Lestrange Mausoleum. There, he gave a rousing speech, in which he shared his idealist perspective of Muggles, as well as his vision of the future, which he warns of another great and terrible war, with images of the London Blitz and Hiroshima punctuating his rhetoric. Grindelwald, openly recognising the battalion of Aurors that had infiltrated the rally, told his followers to remain calm as he revealed their presence and invited them into the circle and he described how the Aurors have fought him so mercilessly, killing his followers simply for believing. When a young witch, who had been motivated by Grindelwald's speech to lash out, went for her wand, the Auror killed her in response, much to the rage of Grindelwald and the rest of the attendees. Grindelwald knelt to the girl's dead body and martyred her, asking the brave young witch to be taken back to her family. While kneeling, in Grindelwald's ignorance, Newt's Niffler, having escaped its owner's suitcase, lurked near him and stole from him a vial of blood pact protecting him from Dumbledore. After getting up from the body he commanded his followers to Disapparate from the scene while he faced off against the Aurors.
When Theseus Scamander set his men on Grindelwald, he responded by conjuring a circle of protective fire around himself, and added an enchantment designed to test the loyalty of his followers: those who entered with complete fidelity and believed in his cause would survive; those who did not, would be engulfed and perish. Abernathy, Vinda Rosier, Credence, and Queenie joined Grindelwald into the circle and apparated to safety, while many of the Aurors died either fleeing or fighting when Grindelwald manipulated the fire to work as a weapon as well, sending balls and bursts of black fire towards his enemies, thereby killing them. Ultimately, about half a dozen of the fifty Aurors Theseus had brought along accepted his offer and joined him in the circle as well.
Then Grindelwald, mocking Newt by asking whether he thought Dumbledore would mourn for him, battled him and Theseus Scamander. Leta Lestrange screamed to him to stop, which he did and, in response, offered her to join his ranks. She refused, however, and cast a powerful spell that blasted to pieces his skull hookah. Leta was then engulfed by the flames, killing her, before telling the others to evacuate. Grindelwald let out his fury over losing such a valuable tool by unleashing the dark fire, allowing the flames to assume the form of giant bestial entities (similar to Fiendfyre), letting it run rampant, with the intent on destroying the entirety of Paris, and all of those present along with it, before he disapparated.
Return to Nurmengard Castle
- "I have a gift for you, my boy. Your brother seeks to destroy you. There is a legend in your family that the phoenix will come to any member who is in dire need. It is your birthright, my boy, as is the name I now restore to you. Aurelius… Aurelius Dumbledore. We will go down in history together as we remake this world."
- — Gellert Grindelwald to Credence Barebone[src]
Sometime later, at Nurmengard Castle, Grindelwald spoke with Queenie Goldstein about what he must do to make Credence stop being afraid of him. Then he revealed to Credence that the baby bird he has been caring for is actually a Phoenix. According to legend, a phoenix will appear to anyone of a certain wizarding family in dire need. Grindelwald then presented him with a wand, as well as his birth name: Aurelius Dumbledore.
Global wizarding war (1930s–1945)
The start of open war
Eventually, the Second World War began just as Gellert Grindelwald foretold. Around this time, he declared open war upon the world, leading to the eventual ousting of Minister for Magic Hector Fawley. During these six years of utter chaos, 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. 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. It was also because there were difficulties in abolishing their old blood pact, which in turn prolonged the Global Wizarding War.
Fall from power
- "...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."
- — Description of Gellert's reign[src]
After seven years of warfare, Albus Dumbledore, at this point about sixty-three years of age and Head of Transfiguration at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, was finally able to destroy the vial that prevented him from taking on Grindelwald and after being convinced by people who suffered from his former friend's actions, he tracked down Grindelwald.
In 1945, upon being found by Dumbledore, they engaged in a duel of such legendary proportions that eyewitnesses stated that it was the greatest duel ever fought between wizards. Despite Grindelwald's mastery of the Elder Wand, Dumbledore had ultimately triumphed over Grindelwald due to being, in his own admission, a "shade more skilful", thus becoming the master of the Elder Wand in the process.
Imprisonment and death (1945–1998)
- "Kill me, then. Voldemort, I welcome death! But my death will not bring you what you seek… that wand will never, ever be yours!"
- — Grindelwald shortly before his death[src]
With Grindelwald defeated, Dumbledore brought him to the authorities of the magical world, resulting in Grindelwald ironically being imprisoned in the topmost cell of Nurmengard, which would serve as his residence for the remainder of his life.
Towards the later years of his life, Grindelwald re-evaluated his actions and his revolution and it was thought that he expressed shame and remorse for the horrors he and his followers had inflicted on the magical and non-magical worlds. In 1998, fifty-three years after his defeat, Grindelwald woke to find he was not alone in his prison cell; the prison had been infiltrated by Lord Voldemort, who was searching for the Elder Wand for himself. Despite being unarmed and defenceless against the most powerful Dark Wizard to have ever existed and the only Dark Wizard more powerful and dangerous than himself, Grindelwald refused to give up the location of the Elder Wand, taunting Voldemort by name and mocking his desire for the wand. Growing more and more impatient, Voldemort's fury exploded when he felt his Death Eaters summoning him in tandem with Grindelwald's final taunts that he could kill him if he wanted but the Elder Wand would never be his, and thus Voldemort ended Grindelwald's life with the Killing Curse.
It was speculated by Harry Potter and Dumbledore in Limbo that Grindelwald had given his life to prevent Voldemort from desecrating Dumbledore's tomb, perhaps indicating that despite all that happened, Grindelwald still retained some care and respect for his old friend. Dumbledore's acknowledgement of Grindelwald's attempt to achieve redemption also indicated he believed Grindelwald was capable of changing out of some possible remaining affection for him. In the end, Grindelwald's prediction of Voldemort never fully mastering the Elder Wand would become reality, and would cause Voldemort's own demise during his final duel with Harry Potter. Although unknown, it is highly likely that after Voldemort's final defeat and the end of the Second Wizarding War, Grindelwald's assassination was exposed to the Wizarding World. It is unknown what became of his body or whether it received a proper burial or was simply disposed of.
Near the end of his life, when Voldemort found him at the top of Nurmengard, Grindelwald was severely emaciated - a frail skeletal figure with a skull-like face, great sunken eyes, wrinkled cheeks, and 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]
Grindelwald was a driven, charismatic, determined and brilliant individual, even in his youth. Albus Dumbledore himself confessed that Grindelwald was extremely charming, so much so that it had induced the former to fall in love with him, and it was partly the reason Dumbledore had been initially blind to just how dangerous Grindelwald truly was. His attraction to the Dark Arts was not necessarily malevolent in its initial stages, but was more of a personal interest that swelled over time in Durmstrang, a school that was rather notorious for its acceptance and study of the Dark Arts.
During his formative years, Grindelwald also proved himself highly intelligent, magically talented, idealistic, as well as ambitious to the point of ruthlessness, with a ferocious temper; 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, showing his willingness to cause pain to people who challenged him. Grindelwald resorted to physically striking Credence Barebone when he grew impatient with the boy, briefly shedding the soft and comforting facade that he adopted earlier. Later on, when Grindelwald duelled Newt Scamander, he swiftly overpowered his opponent but in his rage of Newt's interference, he fiercely unleashed bolts of lightning upon the Magizoologist in order to first incapacitate him in a painful manner. After his skull-hookah was destroyed, Grindelwald's rage prompted him to try to destroy all of Paris. He also showed a sadistic streak, as during his battle against the Aurors in Paris, Grindelwald called after them "Play by the rules. No cheating, children", shedding his charming nature entirely. Dumbledore himself expressed horror in what Grindelwald truly was, stating that he had always (unconsciously) sensed something dangerous in him. He was also not above killing Muggle infants, although he seemingly didn't like to do it, such as after arriving in Paris, Grindelwald heard the cries of a Muggle toddler, and after a brief moment of consideration, walked out of the room and left him to be murdered by one of his acolytes.
- "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."
- — Grindelwald expressing his belief in Wizarding supremacy (whilst disguised as Graves)[src]
As a revolutionary operating outside the law, Gellert Grindelwald was man who lived in service to his ideals and, as he saw it, in humanity. Fully convinced that his revolution to bring wizardkind out of hiding and "rise up and take [their] rightful place" above the non-magical population was truly for the greater good, and that it would bring order, purpose, and direction to the world while providing benefits for mankind in the long run, he tirelessly endeavoured to fulfil this vision. While both willing and capable of achieving his own ends by force, he also knew better than to presume, for all his power, that he could take on the whole world by himself and possibly come out on top. As such, he relied equally much on his outstandingly genius-level intellect and excellent mastery in the use of tactics and strategy. Aside from his ability to create carefully-woven plans to achieve his goals, Grindelwald was an extremely persuasive orator. Clever and composed, he had a phenomenal command of the art of public speaking, allowing him to mystify and terrify his audiences, allies and enemies alike, inspiring fanatical loyalty with each word, and gaining widespread following for his cause, followers whom he affectionately referred to as his as "brothers and sisters" and called "friends". When appearing in front of an audience at a rally, Grindelwald was treated as a revered celebrity, as was expected of someone with his charisma.
He did recognise, however, that while a brilliant wizard, he was not infallible, and thus Grindelwald openly confided in a carefully selected group of six Acolytes that constituted the innermost circle of the army of Dark witches and wizards that he marshalled to his side. Additionally, while escaping his Incarceration Carriage and killing all of the accompanying Aurors, Grindelwald went out of his way to let Rudolph Spielman live, seemingly in order for the frightened Head of Incarceration to tell the International Confederation of Wizards how great of a threat Grindelwald truly was. Grindelwald could also work very independently when he had to, however, such as when he seemingly single-handedly infiltrated the MACUSA, and was able to mimic the personality of Percival Graves for an extended period time without arousing suspicion — even when having his followers denounced as fanatics by Newton Scamander, Grindelwald was mostly unfazed and only chuckled the only time he truly aroused anyone's suspicion was when he interrogated Newt Scamander and labelled the hostless Obscurus as "useless", which roused Newt to angry disbelief, and appeared to baffle former Auror Tina Goldstein. Thus, Grindelwald either momentarily lapsed in his facade at this point, or incorporated his own ruthlessness and calculative nature into that of Percival Graves. Either way, Grindelwald was quick enough to quell Newt's realisation by sentencing both him and Tina to death, before the conversation could go any further.
Grindelwald showed himself to be immensely charismatic — 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, and was outraged when the MACUSA President opted to have her Aurors seemingly destroy him. Grindelwald was idealistic to an extreme, having absolutely no complaints about the murder of hundreds of innocent people as long as that accomplished his long-term goals. Indeed, Grindelwald's idealism even prompted him to truly break his disguise in New York, expressing his disgust for being forced to hide from Muggles, and then proceeding to attack the MACUSA Aurors who had seemingly killed Credence. Even then, however, his anger was not expressed on his own behalf, but rather on that of the cause he was fighting for, which more or less spurred his life and deeds. Grindelwald spoke scornfully towards President Picquery when she insisted the Obscurial's destruction was on her orders, mocking the fact that history would note this, and that it wasn't right. Grindelwald noticeably paused before engaging the Aurors, indicating that he couldn't see any other way out of it. Throughout all of this, Grindelwald maintained a stern pride in his own skill: even as he was unexpectedly apprehended by the Aurors after Newt Scamander had attacked and subdued him from behind, Grindelwald was unfazed, and simply questioned President Picquery's ability to contain a wizard of his reputation and power. He did not even blink when faced with the President, fixing her with a fierce stare until she was out of his sight, showing his unwillingness to show fear to his enemies.
As shown at his Paris rally, Grindelwald inspired fanatical loyalty in attendees by praising Wizardkind for being "rare souls", and only labelled tyrannical Muggles as the true enemy, claiming that what he and his For the Greater Good revolution were actually opposing was the future Second World War that the Muggles would start, and that it was the Aurors, rather than his Acolytes who were the truly violent wizards. Indeed, Grindelwald even persuaded the peaceful, kind, and compassionate Queenie Goldstein to join his cause by promising to abolish such laws as Rappaport's Law, thus promising to bring Queenie and others a newfound freedom to love whomever they please. Grindelwald also showed a great trust in his followers, as seen by his trusting Vinda Rosier and his other Acolytes to "spread the word" of his ideology across the Wizarding world. Grindelwald was extremely persuasive even in his time in prison, where he kept convincing his jailers to join his side, forcing the MACUSA to change his guards three times, and to cut out Grindelwald's tongue.
He demonstrated his manipulative skills and the willingness to use them for his own purposes. Judging by Aberforth Dumbledore's testimony, Grindelwald had little interest in, or patience with, those he considered beneath him. He considered Albus Dumbledore an equal, and praised the tremendous potential of the Obscurial Credence Barebone, for instance, but was dismissive of the less talented and intelligent Aberforth, the permanently damaged Ariana, and also, initially, Credence, whom Grindelwald initially callously discarded when he seemingly became no longer useful, mistakenly believing Credence to be a Squib, whom it would be impossible to magically train. In addition, while disguised as Percival Graves, Grindelwald questioned Newt Scamander, who he seemingly found to be an average wizard, in an interrogation as to why Dumbledore would have such faith in Newt, indicating an interest in further understanding both Dumbledore and Newt's abilities. Grindelwald's dismissal of Credence as a Squib suggested that Grindelwald, in his (somewhat arrogant) awareness of his own brilliance, was so secure in his own Seer judgement as to having grown a weakness for jumping to conclusions. Grindelwald was also criticised by Newt for deeming magical creatures too simple to raise his interest, being only turned towards more complex forms of magic, unaware that one such creature, a Niffler, actually stole his Blood pact vial.
However, Grindelwald was ultimately not a complete amoral man, as shown by how he was capable of feeling remorse for past wrongdoings and the fact that his lengths he was willing to go to reach his goals were fuelled by ambition and a fanatical sense of self-purpose, rather than evil intent. Grindelwald's decision to stun, not kill Gregorovitch, when he acquired the Elder Wand from the latter, and also not bother finishing off Porpentina Goldstein even though he could have easily done so, 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, while his sparing of Tina was likely because Grindelwald didn't view her worth the time he could instead have used to try to persuade Credence. After all, Grindelwald killed his own pet Chupacabra Antonio after deeming him "too needy", he killed numerous Aurors while escaping the MACUSA, he ruthlessly killed many people who did not display enough loyalty to him to enter his circle of blue fire (disintegrating his own inadequately loyal Acolyte Krall, although while he did not spare Krall, he sombrely closed his eyes, indicating some regret and remorse, at seeing Krall painfully die as he tried to reach out to him as he reached out to Grindelwald, in addition to also offering the Aurors who attacked him a chance to join his army rather than just simply immediately massacring all of them and when Leta Lestrange asked him to stop, Grindelwald seemed rather willing to spare Newt and Theseus had Leta joined him, having stopped his attempts to burn them alive and only having the black flames thwart them instead of killing them), and Grindelwald even had no objections to Vinda Rosier and Carrow murdering a family of Non-Magiques, including their infant son, to secure a temporary headquarters for the Acolytes in Paris, although he seemed a bit reluctant in killing the baby and chose not to witness his acolytes kill him.
Nonetheless, Grindelwald's ideology was considerably less extreme than that of Voldemort - while he considered his own wizarding kind superior, Grindelwald's intended new world order only seemed to oppose tyrannical and hateful non-magical individuals, such as the No-Maj Second Salemers, and the Muggle executors of the future atrocities of the Second World War. Whereas Voldemort genuinely desired the destruction of all non-magic individuals, Grindelwald only ever wanted to subjugate them, believing that the beast of burden would always be necessary. He was disheartened to hear that people thought he hated Muggles.
Proof of his lesser dark nature, when compared to that of Lord Voldemort, was how that while Voldemort was completely without empathy and unable to feel remorse, Grindelwald seemed to genuinely pity Credence for the greatly unjust treatment he was exposed to not only by his own mother, but also by the magical community, as displayed by his rage of Credence being destroyed by MACUSA. He later expressed sympathy for how Mary Lou Barebone had nearly destroyed her own adopted son. After many years of imprisonment in Nurmengard, as he sat alone in his former fortress, Grindelwald was reportedly known for having contemplated his past misdeeds and felt remorse and shame for the horrifying things he had committed during his attempted rise to power over the magical and non-magical worlds. This clearly influenced his decision to hide the location of the Elder Wand from Voldemort, despite being confronted and certainly about to die at the hands of the only Dark Wizard more powerful and dangerous than himself, which Dumbledore acknowledged to be out of a desire to achieve a shred of redemption. This remorse and redemption is in stark contrast to Voldemort, who showed not an ounce of remorse for the countless atrocities he committed.
Grindelwald was also proven to be capable of fear, judging from the fact that he fled in fear of his life after the intense duel between himself, Dumbledore, and Aberforth that resulted in Ariana's death, and how he resorted to being more cautious around Credence upon realising that he was the Obscurial (in the knowledge of how dangerous and volatile Obscurials were). He never attempted to extend his power to Britain for fear of facing Dumbledore (most likely due to the circumstances of their last encounter, and the fact that he recognised how powerful Dumbledore was), but notably also due to their Blood pact making Grindelwald unable to directly confront Dumbledore. Not only does this suggest that Grindelwald was actually capable of contemplating Dumbledore being equivalently powerful or dangerous as himself, but that he was also capable of respecting Dumbledore. It would seem that despite Dumbledore being the cause of his downfall, Grindelwald still genuinely considered Dumbledore his friend in the end to an extent, as Harry Potter noted Grindelwald had also intended to prevent Dumbledore's tomb from being desecrated when he lied on the Elder Wand. It should also be noted that despite his claims of wanting to unleash Credence upon Dumbledore, Grindelwald was never known to attack Britain even after he had Credence, as Britain was always acknowledged as the only place safe from Grindelwald, which seemed to imply Grindelwald, even at his worst, did not want Albus dead unless he had interfered in his plans.
When trapped and unarmed in Nurmengard, facing certain death at the hands of the only dark wizard more powerful than himself, Lord Voldemort, Grindelwald was openly defiant towards him, even mocking, goading Voldemort into killing him by saying that he welcomed death, but that it would not "bring him what [he] sought", saying there is so much he "doesn't understand". Indeed, he seemed to exhibit a grotesque remnant of the "merry, wild" temperament of his youth. Grindelwald's last words consisted of the dressing-down of Voldemort, and a rather enthusiastic outlook on "the next great adventure", all of which seems clear in its connection to his old flame, Albus Dumbledore.
Magical abilities and skills
Grindelwald was an outstandingly talented wizard even in his youth while still a student. As an adult, Grindelwald became a very powerful and accomplished wizard and was admired and feared by many others of outstanding magical talent. Indeed, it is not without good reason that Grindelwald went down in history as among the most dangerous Dark Wizards of all time, maintaining the top spot for a long period of time until the arrival of the even more powerful Lord Voldemort, who earned the top title on the list a generation later. Indeed, even Albus Dumbledore, who was considered by many to be the greatest wizard of all time and whose past friendship with him meant that he knew Grindelwald better than arguably any living person, acknowledged Grindelwald to be nearly as talented as himself, with Dumbledore describing himself as a shade more skilful. As a former master of the Elder Wand, Grindelwald's already formidable abilities was further enhanced by the artefact's legendary powers, allowing him to perform spells that would be more powerful than otherwise magically possible.
- Magical mastery: Grindelwald was noted to be very talented and skilled while still a student of Durmstrang Institute, and acknowledged later in life to have been nearly as brilliant as Albus Dumbledore, with their magical and intellectual prowess being so complimentary to one another that it induced the two young men to quickly befriend one another in their youth. By the mid- 1920s, the immensity of Grindelwald's power were already clearly evident, having proven himself to be easily capable of overcoming any obstacle presented to him by witches and wizards trying to to end his reign of terror, to the point where even Torquil Travers of the Ministry of Magic in London, despite his personal dislike of the man, reluctantly had to acknowledge that Albus Dumbledore was the only wizard alive who could stand any chance of defeating Grindelwald. By the time of what unbeknownst to Grindelwald himself would soon become the dawn of the Global wizarding war, much of the international wizarding communities had come to concur with him, pleading for Dumbledore to take action. At the time, the evolutionary leader in question had successfully terrorised much of the wizarding world and had a huge number of followers at his command. Indeed, Dumbledore himself recalled that the height of Grindelwald's power was such that it would have been "too shameful to resist any longer. People were dying and he seemed unstoppable", which ultimately prompted Professor Dumbledore to finally put aside his personal feelings and fears, and to finally seek out his old friend and to put an end to his reign of terror once and for all. Grindelwald was ultimately defeated by Albus, though it must be noted that according to contemporary accounts, their displays of power and skill was of a standard that few had ever seen before in the history of wizardkind, and their famous duel in 1945 went down in history as one of the greatest duels ever fought between two wizards.
- Intellectual genius: Grindelwald was not only a great wizard, but also possessed a tremendous level of intellect, considered by most to be just as brilliant as Albus Dumbledore. Indeed, Grindelwald and Dumbledore's intellects were so complementary to one another that according to Bathilda Bagshot, even after spending an entire day in intellectually stimulating discussions with Grindelwald, Dumbledore would still unexpectedly send Grindelwald messages by owl right after sudden ideas struck him, with him having to let Grindelwald know of them immediately. As an adult, Grindelwald became an exceptional strategist and tactician, whose expertise was perhaps best shown by his ability to start a massive revolution on his own, gathering a large amount of followers to establish a new wizarding world order, and strategically overwhelming much of the Wizarding world to the point that Dumbledore's tactical advice ultimately proved fruitless, requiring Dumbledore's direct intervention to finally put an end to his For the Greater Good revolution. Examples of Grindelwald's uncanny ability to create complex and carefully-woven plans to achieve his goals was shown, among others, when he managed to think his way out of his blood pact with Dumbledore by formulating a master plan to investigate the Obscurial attack on New York unhindered, with the intent of using the Obscurial in question as a lethal weapon again his former friend. This he accomplished when he removed President Picquery's right-hand man, Percival Graves, from the playing field, and infiltrated the MACUSA by assuming his identity. Grindelwald also proved to be a consummate actor, multitasker and investigator, as during his time disguised as Graves, Grindelwald was able to perfectly mimic his personality and American accent, and limit his magical abilities to be only on par with Graves, as well as convincingly and effectively carry out Graves' many duties, while also gradually managing to locate the rampaging Obscurial, all without arousing suspicion. Grindelwald demonstrated his brilliance yet again when he orchestrated an escape plan cunning enough to outwit even the experience of Rudolph Spielman, whose position as Head of Incarceration meant he was accustomed to dealing with highly dangerous criminals. Grindelwald was also fully aware of and highly excelled in taking advantage of the discontent of those members of the Wizarding World that harboured anti-Muggle sentiments, presenting a strong case for his cause, and did so in a way that was not only very appealing to the target audience, but also simultaneously succeeded in inspiring an "us versus them" mentality in those inclined to support him towards the Aurors of the world that fought against him, whom he presented as something akin to psychopathic soldiers of the current ruling class, employed by its underlings to suppress them if they dared to disagree with the status quo, and did so in a way that made any Auror trying to attack him or one of his supporters appear to confirm his claims to the rest of them. During his Paris rally, Grindelwald succeeded in convincing almost all of the many attendees to join his cause, who immediately went to spread his propaganda across the wizarding world at his behest, after a young British Auror in Theseus Scamander's squad killed one of them.
- Charisma: Even as a young man, Grindelwald was highly talented in manipulating and inspiring others, such that he was able to manipulate the extremely intelligent and perceptive Albus Dumbledore into agreeing to accompany him as he embarked on his revolutionary endeavour to overthrow the International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy, halted only by Aberforth's timely intervention. As an adult, Grindelwald's skills in manipulating others grew even further, with Theseus Scamander describing him as a "charismatic blighter", and Grindelwald successfully convincing numerous wizards and witches to join his cause during rallies, to the point where he would receive a standing ovation at his Paris rally for simply making a "public" appearance, being hailed as a hero by his fanatical followers. Grindelwald was also able to effortlessly manipulate Credence Barebone into trusting him, doing so by playing the role of a kind mentor to Credence after assuming the identity of Percival Graves, to the point that Credence was completely unaware that Grindelwald was merely using him. He was also shown to be confident that he could eventually get Credence in his Obscurus form to listen to him, which made him enraged when he was seemingly destroyed by MACUSA Aurors. Indeed, Grindelwald was ultimately even able to manipulate the young man to his side by presenting himself as the only one who could give him the answers he wanted, and finally gifting Credence with a proper wand, thus finally succeeding in earning his full confidence. Grindelwald was even able to persuade the kind-hearted and compassionate Queenie Goldstein to join his ranks, by promising to provide Queenie with the freedom to love and marry Jacob Kowalski, as well as to provide that freedom to others. An outstanding orator, Grindelwald could charm a fanatical following in hundreds of people at once, to the point that he trusted his new followers to "spread the word" of his ideology across the Wizarding world. During his time in prison, the MACUSA was forced to cut out Grindelwald's tongue, as he kept convincing his jailers to join his side, notably thus swaying the formerly loyal MACUSA employee Abernathy. Indeed, only people with truly incorruptible moral codes, or with a full acceptance of their past sins, were able to resist Grindelwald's charisma.
- Leadership skills: Confident in his own abilities and secure in his own judgement, Grindelwald was a very self-assured individual, and his considerable abilities and brilliant mind both allowed Grindelwald to become a greatly inspiring revolutionary leader. During his younger days, he felt certain that together, he and Dumbledore could start his revolution to conquer the wizarding and non-wizarding worlds. As an adult, Grindelwald proved his leadership by raising and leading a vast army of followers during his For the Greater Good revolution to establish a new wizarding order. So effectively, in fact, that Grindelwald successfully sparked the Global wizarding war across much of the Wizarding world, and very nearly conquered the magical community, to the point that Albus Dumbledore ultimately saw the need to personally confront him. While disguised as Percival Graves, Grindelwald demonstrated his leadership again by taking over the latter's high-ranking positions in the MACUSA as the Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, and the Director of Magical Security, doing so for an extended period of time without even President Picquery suspecting anything.
- Magical Law expertise: Grindelwald was highly knowledgeable in the laws of the Wizarding world, as shown by his success impersonating Percival Graves as the Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. This was also evident in Grindelwald's consummate knowledge of the International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy, and his ability to very effectively exploit the sacred law's weaknesses, and rebel against it. In addition, Grindelwald had a decent degree of understanding and knowledge of the Rappaport's Law and thus used said knowledge to great effect to successfully convince Queenie Goldstein to join him despite her lovable and peaceful personality, as Grindelwald took advantage of Queenie's desperation to be with Jacob, as Jacob being a No Maj cannot be with Queenie with said law in effect to persuade her he will allow her to be with him by abolishing the law after his revolution was successful.
- Dark Arts: Grindelwald was incredibly proficient and talented in the Dark Arts, and became the most dangerous Dark Wizard of the early 20th century and maintained a well-deserved spot at the top of the list of the Most Dangerous Dark Wizards of All Time, until he was surpassed with the arrival of the even more powerful Lord Voldemort a generation later. Even as a student, Grindelwald's talents were already great enough that, coupled with his passion for the Dark Arts, his exploration and practice of such magic were already very dangerous, even nearly fatal to the fellow Durmstrang students, and eventually, his "twisted experiments" became too dangerous for even Dumstrang's tolerant outlook on the Dark Arts, resulting in his expulsion. While seventeen, Grindelwald was already adept at casting the extremely powerful Cruciatus Curse, notably using it against Aberforth Dumbledore. While impersonating Percival Graves and duelling Newt Scamander, Grindelwald used an unknown dark spell that unleashed fissures of force and another that emitted a bolt of lightning to torture him. During Battle in the Lestrange Mausoleum of 1927, Grindelwald conjured an incredibly powerful protective ring of dark fire, which he was able to manipulate to an extraordinary degree, effectively turning the defensive spell into a devastating weapon, killing many enemy Aurors present. He also nearly killing Newt and Theseus with a concentrated burst of the flames, as well greatly spread it around upon being angered by Leta's destruction of his Skull-Hookah, with said flames serving as a magical protection of sorts, easily repelling Theseus's attempts to stop Grindelwald from killing his fiancée. Grindelwald was even able to shape it into a huge winged fiery demon of such potency that it was capable of potentially destroying all of Paris, requiring the combined efforts of Nicholas Flamel, Newt and Theseus Scamander, Tina Goldstein and Yusuf Kama to dispel it.
- Defence Against the Dark Arts: While he seldom employed his skills in this field, usually instead employing the Dark Arts themselves, Grindelwald proved exceptionally knowledgeable and adept in how to defend against them as well. This was demonstrated when Grindelwald posed as Percival Graves, who was an extremely skilled Auror and the Director of Magical Security with therefore undeniably great skills in safeguarding the North American wizarding community against the Dark Arts and perfectly imitated Graves's defensive expertise without arousing the suspicion of even President Picquery. Moreover, Grindelwald proved quite capable of using non-dark martial magic to devastating effect, as shown by how he could cast Stunning Spells strong enough to instantly knock out targets and also use Shield Charms of massive size capable of repelling a coordinated attacks from about thirty seasoned Aurors with relative ease.
- Elemental magic mastery: Much like his former friend Albus Dumbledore, Grindelwald was extremely accomplished with the manipulation of the elements. When fighting off five European Aurors, Grindelwald unleashed a huge white fiery blast that incinerated them in an instant. In his brief duel with Newt Scamander, Grindelwald generated shock-waves of blue lightning that quickly knocked down Newt, before using the same spell to torture him. While escaping his flying Incarceration Carriage, Grindelwald blasted massive lightning bolts to dispatch the handful of broomstick-mounted Aurors tasked with escorting it, and then easily manipulated the waters of the Hudson River to flood the carriage, nearly drowning all those inside. Moreover, following his rally, Grindelwald was able to conjure an incredibly powerful ring of black fire that he was able to manipulate to cast columns of fire fast enough to reach Aurors in mid-Apparition, and the animated fire could shape itself into a fiery winged demon capable which nearly destroyed the Mausoleum.
- Duelling: Gellert Grindelwald was a duellist of noteworthy skill. Even as a teenager, Grindelwald was already highly proficient in magical combat, having received thorough training in duelling and all manner of martial magic during his schooling at Durmstrang Institute. Able to hone his skills to match his potential, Grindelwald became a fully confident, focused, disciplined and versatile practitioner of combative spellwork. In his late teens, he held his own against Albus and Aberforth Dumbledore simultaneously during their three-way duel at Godric's Hallow, and later effortlessly won the Elder Wand from its previous master, Mykew Gregorovitch, with a single stunning spell when he stole it from his workshop. As an adult, he earned a fearful reputation having killed many witches and wizards during his reign of terror in wizarding world. Though quite capable of performing magic of great destructive power, as seen in the Battle in the Lestrange Mausoleum, he would sometimes prefer to engage his adversaries in a more traditional and formal manner of combat. When he did this, he could display a surprisingly defensive duelling style, deflecting his opponents' efforts with perfect ease and slowly advancing upon them before delivering the crushing blow, in order to take in the awe with which they observed the immensity of his power, but when duelling Newt Scamander, Grindelwald also used an aggressive duelling style, only once defending and constantly attacking his opponent. He also presumably overpowered Percival Graves, so he could disguise himself as him and infiltrate MACUSA. While impersonating Graves, Grindelwald still displayed considerable skill. Upon being unmasked, Grindelwald not only fended off many MACUSA Aurors simultaneously, seamlessly switching between offence and defence to both repel and attack his opponents, but he also quickly started to overwhelm them, until Newt intervened and restrained him from behind. Grindelwald later escaped from captivity, defeating many broomstick-mounted Aurors, and took control of the Incarceration Carriage. Later, he overcame the combined might of Theseus himself, as well as the highly skilled Tina Goldstein, Newt Scamander and Leta Lestrange, the latter of whom he killed. During his reign of terror, Albus Dumbledore was considered by the British Ministry of Magic to be the only duelist capable of overpowering and capturing Grindelwald alone and, at the height of his power, the only one who could defeat him, with much of the wizarding world pleading with Dumbledore to confront him. Indeed, although he was ultimately defeated by him, their duel went down in history as among the greatest ever fought between two wizards.
- Charms: Grindelwald was extremely skilled in charm-work. Albus Dumbledore noted that both he and Grindelwald could already effectively render themselves invisible without needing to use an invisibility cloak during their late teens, possibly with the Disillusionment Charm, which is a tremendous feat. This made the Cloak of Invisibility the Hallow that Grindelwald was least interested in, though he continued his search for it only because the Cloak completed the trio of legendary artefacts. Grindelwald also enchanted a necklace with the symbol of Deathly Hallows, a necklace that he gave to Credence, so that the latter could summon him by touching it. Later, Grindelwald used the Elder Wand to project images of Credence and the Obscurus. Grindelwald skill was such that he could cast several minor spells both non-verbally and wandlessly to a great effect: disarming Newt and Tina and summoning their wands, as well as Newt's case to him, before levitating them alongside Jacob, and slamming them down; summoning the magical orb containing the Obscurus from Newt's case; levitating Credence away and even levitating and throwing a car, all with mere gestures. Grindelwald later instantly made the wands of the Aurors inside his Incarceration Carriage reverse direction and hover dangerously in front of their owners throats. He took down several Aurors following him with the Tempest Jinx, and effortlessly unlocked the door to the Incarceration Carriage. Grindelwald also displayed phenomenal mastery over the Shield Charm, capable of instantly conjuring up massive magical shields with ease. Indeed, Grindelwald's Shield Charm was powerful enough to repel a barrage of spells fired at him by around thirty trained Aurors simultaneously without fail. After his rally, Grindelwald also drew up an incredibly powerful protective ring of fire around himself, which he proceeded to bewitch so that only those truly loyal to him and his cause could pass through it unscathed, with those insufficiently loyal to him, such as Krall, instead disintegrating from the fire. While disguised as Graves, Grindelwald locked the door to his office with a powerful charm that Queenie was not able to break. In addition, he was able to brand Dumstrang with his symbol and enchant it to make it forever irremovable, even after his death. He could also at least conjure a non-corporeal Patronus, despite being a dark wizard.
- Care of Magical Creatures: Grindelwald was fairly knowledgeable and adept on handling magical creatures, particularly dark ones, having managed to tame the baby Chupacabra placed in his cell to guard him by the Magical Congress of the United States of America and had even named it. In fact, the affection and loyalty Grindelwald had inspired in said creature was such that it attacked Rudolph Spielman, whom it recognised as Grindelwald's enemy, while leaving Grindelwald's follower, Abernathy, alone. Grindelwald was also able to recognise a baby bird as a Phoenix, and, with his awareness of the legend of a Phoenix coming to the aid of a Dumbledore in need, Grindelwald managed to persuade Credence Barebone that the latter was actually Aurelius Dumbledore, somehow quickly accelerating the Phoenix's growth in the process. Grindelwald also had no problems mounting the Thestrals of his Incarceration Carriage, directing them, while simultaneously defeating many broomstick-mounted Aurors. However, as expert Magizoologist Newt Scamander noted, Grindelwald did not bother to train himself to be an expert in handling simple magical creatures due to being more tuned towards complex forms of magic, which is how Newt was able to use his Niffler to steal Grindelwald's Blood pact vial without him noticing.
- Healing magic: Grindelwald had an immense understanding of healing charms, being able to heal the cuts on Credence Barebone's hands wandlessly and non-verbally, by simply touching them. Indeed, Grindelwald's mastery and knowledge was so great that with the Elder Wand, he was capable of restoring Abernathy's cut-off tongue, returning his ability to speak.
- Transfiguration: Grindelwald was incredibly proficient in this field, and his ability and knowledge on the complex area of Human Transfiguration was sufficient to transform himself into an exact replica of Percival Graves for an extended period of time without his disguise fading, without him needing any Polyjuice Potion. He easily transfigured the reigns of his Incarceration Carriage into living snakes, and was able to non-verbally conjure a new forked tongue for Abernathy after his escape.
- Apparition: Grindelwald was extremely skilled in Apparition, capable of Apparating with pin-point precision and speed, even while in a quickly moving frame of reference, as shown by how Grindelwald had little trouble dodging the violent attacks of Credence's huge Obscurus by rapidly Apparating, how he easily Apparated to the bottom of his speedily flying Incarceration Carriage (while disguised as Abernathy), and then to the top of the carriage from the bottom.
- Occlumency: Grindelwald was an incredibly accomplished Occlumens, being able to fully conceal his thoughts from the exceptionally talented Legilimens Queenie Goldstein while under the guise of Percival Graves. He also was capable of using a convincing form of Occlumency that would made a Legilimens attempting to read his mind see faux thoughts, as shown while turning Queenie to his side, he concealed his ulterior motives from her regarding the subjugation of the non-magical population, with promises of granting her the freedom to marry and be with the No-Maj Jacob Kowalski. Even in his older days, and having been imprisoned for fifty-three years in Nurmengard, Grindelwald remained very proficient in the art, as even Lord Voldemort himself, who was the most accomplished and powerful Legilimens alive, was unable to penetrate Grindelwald's mind to gain information in his search of the Elder Wand.
- History of Magic: Grindelwald was highly knowledgeable in magical history and lore, with particular specialisation in the portions of it that pertained to powerful magical artefacts, such as the Deathly Hallows and Wandlore. For example, Grindelwald knew that Ignotus Peverell, owner of the Cloak of Invisibility, had been laid to rest in Godric's Hollow. Grindelwald was also aware that in order to become the master of the Elder Wand, he needed to not only steal it, but he also had to defeat it's previous owner. Seemingly from his knowledge of Wandlore, Grindelwald was able to create a unique wand for Credence that allowed him to channel the extraordinary power of his Obscurus. Moreover, Grindelwald was highly knowledgeable of both past and current histories of the Sacred Twenty-Eight families, as he knew about the ancient abandoned Lestrange Mausoleum in Paris, and was aware of Leta Lestrange's backstory, and was possibly even able to uncover the identity of Credence Barebone before Albus Dumbledore did, despite the latter's extensive network of international contacts.
- Study of Ancient Runes: Grindewald was also very knowledgeable and well-versed in the magical study of Runology. He was capable of translating and understanding the meanings of complex runic scriptures, alphabets and symbols, often using the help of a highly useful and practical Rune Dictionary.
- Divination: Grindelwald was a Seer and thus had a naturally excellent level of expertise and knowledge on Divination. He could retain awareness when seeing his visions in order to be able to know what he saw and was able to craft a skull-hookah capable of enhancing his visions and using it to allow him to share them with others. The sheer strength of his gift was displayed by how while still twelve years prior to the beginning of the Second World War, he already predicted it in detail and thus used his Skull-hookah to project fearsome images of the future Blitzkrieg, Holocaust, and nuclear bombings, for attendees of his rally to see. However, when he had a vision about the existence of a powerful Obscurial linked to Credence Barebone, Grindelwald initially misinterpreted his vision, believing that Credence would lead him to the Obscurial child while in fact, Credence was the Obscurial himself. However, it should be noted that he had not anticipated such a miraculous thing happening as Credence is the only known Obscurial ever to have survived past the age of ten. He would also rely on Astrology, and use the relative positions of celestial bodies to try and gain further insight into future events, possibly in an effort to pinpoint at what point in time his predictions would be taking place, and kept a copy of the Atlas of Celestial Anomalies at Nurmengard Castle to help him interpret his findings. At the end of his life, Grindelwald claimed foreknowledge of Lord Voldemort's arrival to his prison cell, which might be another instance of Grindelwald's power of foresight. In addition, Grindelwald's prediction of Voldemort never fully mastering the Elder Wand proved correct, and would cause Voldemort's own demise during his final duel with Harry Potter.
- Wandless and nonverbal magic: Grindelwald was extremely skilled in both wandless and nonverbal magic. While posing as Percival Graves, Grindelwald swiftly Summoned Newt Scamander's wand and suitcase over to him, both with a silent wave of his hand. Grindelwald also wandlessly lifted Newt Scamander from the ground from across the room and then made him, Tina Goldstein and Jacob Kowalski simultaneously drop to their knees with their arms locked behind against their backs, all with a silent hand gesture. When he interrogated Newt shortly thereafter, Grindelwald Summoned the protective orb containing an Obscurus by silently gesturing it forth. He later saved the life of Credence Barebone from an oncoming train in the New York City Subway by hurling the young man sideways off the tracks with a wave of his wand-free hand. Grindelwald was even able to send an automobile flying across a street at Tina with a silent wave of his hand. By using only silent hand gestures, Grindelwald generated forceful shock-waves to move and otherwise exert force on people and objects, notably being able to break apart the ground by sending a shock-wave rippling through a street, and later performing this on the train tracks Newt was standing on, to knock him down. Grindelwald later overwhelmed twenty MACUSA Aurors simultaneously without speaking a single incantation. Grindelwald also healed the cuts on Credence's hand by silently running his own over it. While escaping his Incarceration Carriage, Grindelwald simultaneously reversed the direction of Aurors' wands, making them point at their own throats, and disintegrated Spielman's wand. He subsequently defeated all of the remaining Aurors (along with Head of Incarceration Rudolph Spielman) by non-verbally using the Elder Wand. After he threw Spielman out of the carriage, he dropped a wand after him and, just before his captor was about to hit the water, made said wand fly into the latter's hand by doing a clasp-like movement with his hand, while both Spielman and the wand were quickly falling through the air. Grindelwald also used wandless magic to accelerate the growth of a baby Phoenix to adulthood in an instant, as well as to, both wandlessly and nonverbally, show to others his visions of the future Second World War with his skull-hookah.
- Indomitable willpower: Grindelwald had tremendous willpower, as despite the immense task of building a large army by himself after Dumbledore abandoned their plans, Grindelwald remained dedicated, and ended up successfully raising and leading among the most powerful forces of darkness ever fought by the Wizarding World, very nearly emerging victorious in the Global wizarding war. Moreover, Grindelwald was capable of remaining steadfast and focused in his tasks. Even after learning Credence Barebone, who he had previously tossed aside coldly, was the Obscurial, which made recruiting him rather difficult, Grindelwald calmly continued to try to recruit Credence to his side, despite also having to chase after him through New York, and also fend off Newt and Tina in the process. When Grindelwald learned that Credence was still alive, he quickly resolved to take advantage of the fact that Credence was unaware that the cruel, verbal mistreatment he got from Percival Graves had actually come from a disguised Grindelwald. As such, he promptly began seeking Credence out again. Grindelwald also showed no fear when the MACUSA successfully imprisoned him, instead mocking Newt Scamander and President Picquery to their faces. His spirit remained unbroken after six months of MACUSA imprisonment, since Grindelwald was so effective at persuading his jailers to join his side, that President Picquery ordered her men to cut out the Dark Wizard's tongue. Indeed, Grindelwald's calm, yet unbreakable resolve greatly contributed to how persuasive his international rallies were. This was demonstrated when Grindelwald did not react violently after one of Theseus Scamander's Aurors killed one of his followers, so as to show the rally attendees that it was the Aurors, not the cause he advocated, that were truly violent, and were therefore truly to blame for the Global wizarding war. Grindelwald was even capable of facing up to his fears, as he duelled Dumbledore when he had no choice. Even after spending fifty-three years in Nurmengard following his defeat, Grindelwald, while the contemplation of his crimes did weigh on him, causing him to supposedly feel remorse for all he had done, he was as confident and fearless as ever when visited by Lord Voldemort. Indeed, despite being defenceless against the greater Dark Wizard, who possessed a far greater capability for evil and destruction along with power and skill superior to Grindelwald‘s own, he was not intimidated and instead sadistically mocked Voldemort's efforts to get information out of him about the Elder Wand, daring the younger and more powerful Dark Wizard to kill him, in a last attempt to find redemption for his crimes.
- Physical aptitude: Grindelwald, while middle-aged during the For the Greater Good revolution, was remarkably fit and agile, as he was easily capable of keeping his footing and holding his balance on top of the roof of the Incarceration Carriage, despite its very swift flight through heavy rain, and could nonchalantly drag the full adult Rudolph Spielman with a single hand despite Rudolph's struggles. Moreover, despite physical degrading while imprisoned in Nurmengard, Grindelwald still survived in that prison for fifty-three years.
- Original wand (formerly): 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 (formerly): While infiltrating the MACUSA in the guise of Percival Graves, Grindelwald wielded Graves' wand against many MACUSA employees. It is unknown how exactly he acquired it nor if he mastered the wand, although the fact that he was able to wield it without handicaps implied he won it by defeating the real Graves in a duel before assuming his identity to infiltrate MACUSA. He lost the wand when Tina Goldstein used a Summoning Charm to disarm him of it.
- Elder Wand (formerly): Grindelwald 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.
- Deathly Hallows necklace: Grindelwald possessed a necklace with a pendant of the Deathly Hallows sign, which Grindelwald gave to Credence Barebone, who could summon Grindelwald by touching it.
- Skull-hookah (formerly): Grindelwald used this enchanted water pipe. The hookah, or the drug that is smoked, enhances Grindelwald's visions of the future. It was, however, destroyed by Leta Lestrange, shortly before her death.
- Blood pact pendant (formerly): Grindelwald, after making a Blood pact with Albus Dumbledore in his youth, carried this vial containing both of their blood on his body. Grindelwald likely did this to prevent Dumbledore from finding some way to destroy the blood pact, and thus to ensure that Dumbledore would not attack him directly.
- Antonio (formerly): Grindelwald possessed a fearsome pet Chupacabra, though he ultimately tossed it out of the window of his flying Incarceration Carriage, deeming the Chupacabra "too needy".
- Rune Dictionary: Grindelwald owned a dictionary of ancient runes, in order to help decipher such runes.
- Cane: Grindelwald owned and used this cane.
- "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 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. Eventually, their relationship developed further into one that went beyond mere friendship, one that was romantic, intense and passionate, as well as sexual. The two young lovers made plans to find the Deathly Hallows and lead a wizarding revolution with themselves as leaders, 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 relationship with Albus over, although their feelings for one another would not subside.
- "Oh we were closer than brothers."
- — Albus Dumbledore to Torquil Travers, about his bond with Gellert Grindelwald[src]
Over the next few decades, Grindelwald caused considerable havoc on behalf of his revolution but due to a past Blood Pact between them, neither Grindelwald or Dumbledore could directly fight one another, which frustrated Grindelwald as it prevented him from attacking Britain, which was essentially Dumbledore's protectorate and operates on behalf of in his duties outside of Hogwarts. Although at this point, their relationship seemed to be a thing of the past, Grindelwald still acknowledged and respected the extraordinary magical and intellectual capabilities of his former lover, noting Dumbledore far outclassed any of his followers and with his equal intelligence and magical capability, he had the ability to subtly intervene anyway in his revolution, and this respect made Dumbledore the only wizard Grindelwald was wary of. Grindelwald feared Dumbledore as he recognised that Dumbledore would be capable of defeating him. This made Grindelwald seek out Credence Barebone in order to be able to use him as a weapon in case Dumbledore attacked him, although despite his claims of wanting to use Credence to kill Dumbledore, it seemed unlikely as Britain was always noted long after his revolution to be the only place Grindelwald never attacked, which could imply Grindelwald was either willing to tolerate Dumbledore, as at the time, even with the blood pact vial stolen, he didin't have broken it anyway, or he wanted to conquer the rest of the wizarding world first before finally fighting Dumbledore to further increases his chances of victory. It also seemed that Grindelwald retained interest in Dumbledore, as shown by his taking time to question Newt regarding why Dumbledore would be fond of him while disguised as Graves and seeming reluctance to stop questioning him and sentence him and Tina to death after making a mistake, and perhaps may even have unresolved affections for him, as he, repeatedly, showed hatred for Newt being Dumbledore's favourite. Eventually, however, by 1945, the blood pact between them was abolished. Dumbledore and Grindelwald engaged each other in a legendary duel, one to be marked as the one of the greatest ever fought between two wizards. However, Dumbledore's greater power and skill ultimately defeated Grindelwald despite his mastery of the Elder Wand during their duel, and Grindelwald was imprisoned 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 the views of those who practised the Dark Arts and had felt remorse for his actions. It was speculated by Harry Potter that Grindelwald had given his life to prevent Voldemort from desecrating Dumbledore's tomb, perhaps indicating that despite all that happened, Grindelwald still retained some care and respect for his old friend and lover. Dumbledore's acknowledgement of Grindelwald's attempt to achieve redemption also indicated he believed Grindelwald was capable of changing out of possible remaining affection for him.
Aberforth disliked Grindelwald immensely, as he was Albus's friend after Hogwarts, and Grindelwald was dismissive of him due to how much he was outshined by Albus. 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.
Grindelwald was dismissive of the permanently damaged Ariana yet was willing to tolerate her to an extent for his old friend, allowing her to be brought in his and Dumbledore's plans for revolution. However, Ariana tragically died when interfering in Grindelwald's duel with Albus and Aberfoth and Grindelwald fled immediately.
It is unknown if the two had ever 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 past revolution to dominate Muggles and status as one of the most powerful Dark Wizards to have ever lived, considered second only to Voldemort himself, he seemed to have no praise or respect for Grindelwald, and Voldemort likely saw him as an inferior and 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 and using the younger wizard’s chosen feared name as a mockery of his great power, much to the latter's fury. Grindelwald refused to tell Voldemort the Elder Wand's location and taunted him by telling him that he would never be able to master the wand. Furious at his inability to gain information from the former master of the Elder Wand, Voldemort murdered Grindelwald with the killing Curse.
Ultimately, Grindelwald's prediction of Voldemort never fully mastering the Elder Wand would become reality, and would cause Voldemort's own demise during his final duel with Harry Potter.
Grindelwald, while disguised as Percival Graves, met the gifted Magizoologist in New York in 1926. Grindelwald, not finding Newt's unique personality or magical skills impressive, questioned him on why Dumbledore would be fond of him. Newt at one point was outraged and disgusted when Grindelwald implied Newt was serving the Greater Good and coldly told him he was not one of the dark wizard's acolytes, which actually impressed the Dark Wizard, causing him to smirk. He seemed to have been interested in talking more about it but upon having made a slip up of how he considered the Obscurus without a host useless, he ultimately did everything in his power to have Newt take the blame for the Obscurial deaths and nearly had him executed, albeit reluctantly, although it remained unknown what he would have done to Newt had the conversation continued. Grindelwald also revealed to Tina Goldstein that Newt had been expelled from Hogwarts for nearly killing a student in an incident involving a magical beast. When Newt intervened in Grindelwald's plan to acquire Credence Barebone, Grindelwald dropped all pretence and ferociously attacked Newt, duelling and even torturing him with lightning spells in a rage. Newt managed to capture Grindelwald by use of Swooping Evil and revealed his true identity to MACUSA, but before being carried off Grindelwald turned to Newt and said mysteriously "Will we die, just a little?", possibly as a message for Dumbledore due to his knowing Newt's closeness to Dumbledore. Grindelwald later encountered Newt in Paris and attacked him and his allies, mocking Newt whether Dumbledore would mourn for him. Newt, however, survived the battle and out of hatred towards Grindelwald for having murdered Leta Lestrange, gave Dumbledore the blood pact vial, which would doom Grindelwald many years later. Grindelwald’s actions towards Newt seem to suggest he hated the younger man not only because he had thwarted him once, but also because he is infuriatingly jealous of Dumbledore’s admiration of Newt’s selfless qualities. It appears that Grindelwald, ever the narcissist, wanted to remain the centre of attention and admiration in his former lover’s mind in spite of his Dark deeds, their now opposing views, and Grindelwald’s own stated desire to have Dumbledore killed.
Grindelwald had interacted with Tina while disguised as Percival Graves, and held a low opinion of her, due to Tina's prim personality. During Newt's interrogation, he sentenced him and Tina as well to death for her participation without hesitation. Grindelwald was later very furious at Tina for distracting him from Credence, telling her angrily she always turned up when he least wanted her, implying she may have intervened with his attempts to find the Obscurus previously, and while he did not bother to finish her, he threw a car at her without hesitation, thus beating her without using lethal force but still endangering her life. A year later, while convincing Queenie to join his ranks, Grindelwald painted Tina in a negative light by telling Queenie that it wasn't the latter's fault for having an Auror as a sister. He then ruthlessly tried to burn her alive with his cursed flames and would have succeeded had Leta not interfered.
Grindelwald had interacted with Queenie in Paris. When she met him, Queenie was clearly frightened due to his reputation as the greatest dark wizard of the age, and drew her wand in his direction nervously. While he resented Tina, Grindelwald did not extend this to Queenie and calmly manipulated her to join his ranks, taking advantage of Queenie's loving, altruistic, and peaceful personality, by promising her that his For the Greater Good revolution would fight against the future Second World War, and would bring about an era where others would be free to love whomever they pleased. Thus, during the rally in the Lestrange family Mausoleum, Queenie passed through the loyalty-testing circle of blue fire, officially joining Grindelwald. After escape from Paris, Grindelwald took Queenie with him to his Austrian residence of Nurmengard Castle, and asked her advice about how to appeal to Credence's current feelings, showing he acknowledged Queenie's expertise in handling the emotions of others.
Grindelwald was reassuring and tender with Credence, giving him the affection the boy had craved and been denied all his life; however, this was mainly in order to use him to find the Obscurus and he coldly tossed him aside when he thought he had obtained his goal, believing him to be no more than a Squib. Considering Credence unteachable in the ways of magic as a result despite promising to teach him previously, Grindelwald told the boy that the death of his mother was his reward instead, although at least he did not just kill Credence to cover any traces. When it was revealed soon after that Credence was in fact the Obscurial, Grindelwald was surprised but quickly recovered and reassumed his old treatment of Credence and tried to recruit him to help expose the North American wizarding community, and create a weapon against Albus Dumbledore.
He continued trying to appeal to Credence, telling him that he wanted him to be free from hiding and repressing his power, until he vanished after being attacked by many Aurors. This resulted in Grindelwald furiously lashing out at MACUSA for what he truly felt was an act of injustice on a fellow magical individual, going so far as to drop his disguise as a faithful Auror in a passionate speech against the International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy and Muggles. As such, because of his magical heritage, Grindelwald showed genuine empathy for how badly and unjustly Credence was treated, not only being upset and resentful of how Picquery had coldly ordered Credence to be destroyed just because he threatened to expose wizardkind, but also pitying how Mary Lou nearly destroyed her own adopted son just because he was magical.
Upon learning that Credence had survived and was searching for his true heritage, Grindelwald sought the young man out, and gave him the freedom to come to his rally at the Lestrange family Mausoleum, acting as if he was close to Credence just as he did with Graves, although he did it with even more kindness, saying he only wanted what was best for Credence. At that rally, Grindelwald's persuasive speech induced the desperate Credence to finally choose his side in the Global wizarding war by passing through the loyalty testing blue fire and joining Gellert Grindelwald's acolytes. Grindelwald was true to his word this time, finally giving Credence a wand, and revealing the young man's birth name: Aurelius Dumbledore, while also encouraging Credence by saying together they would change the world, seemingly being successful in having the latter convinced in breaking the Blood Pact and killing Albus Dumbledore.
Mary Lou Barebone
Grindelwald had likely never interacted with Mary Lou, but it is clear that he knew of her hatred for wizardkind, her status as the leader of the New Salem Philanthropic Society, and how she had abused Credence for his magical heritage, inducing the young man to develop an Obscurus. Due to this, Grindelwald despised her, as he was planning to lead wizardkind to rise above the non-wizarding community, and seemed pleased when she became a victim of Credence's Obscurus, as he told Credence when believing he was just as a Squib, that the death of Mary Lou was his reward. Months later, Grindelwald showed clear resentment when referring to Mary Lou for her near destruction of her own adopted son just because he was magical.
Vinda Rosier was arguably Grindelwald's most trusted and loyal Acolyte, therefore being the Dark Wizard's anonymous lieutenant. Grindelwald trusted her with consoling Queenie Goldstein to soften her up for Grindelwald to convince her and also with keeping his Skull-Hookah, displaying his deep trust for Vinda. When Vinda spoke of eliminating Non-magic people and how they would flee their cities in the millions, Grindelwald told her that they don't say such things out loud, that they only want freedom to be themselves and that they wouldn't eliminate all Non-magic people as the beast of burden would always be necessary.
Grindelwald once trusted Krall enough to include him among one of his acolytes but at some point, he began to sense Krall's loyalty had began to waver and had no qualms confronting him over it, bluntly asking whether he would stand by him as he collected Credence to use against Albus Dumbledore and not looking convinced when Krall tried to assure him. When Krall tried crossing Grindelwald's Protego Diabolica, he died due to his inadequate loyalty.
- 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.
- 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 village and known ski resort in the Bernese Alps of 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
- British actor Jamie Campbell Bower portrays a younger Gellert (in his teenage years) in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, having previously portrayed the young Gellert Grindelwald in the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1.
- British actor Michael Byrne portrays the character as an old man in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1.
- Grindelwald was 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. Following a libel lawsuit, Depp was asked by Warner Bros. to resign and he stepped down from the role of Grindelwald. The role was given to Mads Mikkelsen in Fantastic Beasts 3.
- While Grindelwald is described as being blue eyed in the Fantastic Beasts screenplay, the film and merchandise shows him to have Heterochromia iridium, his right eye being light blue or grey, and his left eye being dark, possibly black.
- This was not seen in the original film series when Grindelwald was shown in his youth or when he was elderly. As such, it is unknown if this is a retcon, or if his eyes changed sometime after his acquirement of the Elder Wand and returned to normal at a later point.
- It is very possible that Grindelwald was born somewhere in the former Austria-Hungary, judging by the fact that Nurmengard is located in Austria and that his given name is of Hungarian origin.
- In the film inspired by Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Grindelwald sports an undercut hairstyle, which was standard for members of the Hitler Youth.
- Additionally, he was described as being blond-haired and blue-eyed, which were iconic traits of the Aryans or the "Master Race" of the Nazi Regime.
- Although fans view Grindelwald to be similar to Adolf Hitler, it is actually Tom Riddle (Voldemort) who parallels Hitler while Grindelwald himself parallels another fascist dictator, Italian prime minister Benito Mussolini.
- 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. 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 swastika, an ancient symbol, switching its facing to create the Nazi swastika. 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 sets you 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.
- In a 2005 interview around the same time Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was published, Rowling stated that Grindelwald was dead. 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 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, Grindelwald's historical significance is not explained in the slightest. Also, Voldemort does not kill Grindelwald, but simply leaves the prison room.
- He also willingly tells Voldemort where the Elder Wand is.
- He also addresses Voldemort by his true name, "Tom", indicating some past history with him or at least knowledge of his origins.
- Grindelwald was the first known Durmstrang student introduced in canon, although the fact that he attended Durmstrang was only revealed in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
- Aside from Harry Potter and Beedle the Bard, Grindelwald is the only character who is mentioned by name in a title of the Wizarding World franchise.
- Along with Albus Dumbledore, Minerva McGonagall and Nagini, Grindelwald is one of four characters who appear in both the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts film series to date.
- J.K. Rowling describes Grindelwald as a sociopath.
- Gellert Grindelwald claimed that he knew that Voldemort would come to him. It is unknown whether this was a guess or if he foresaw it due to being a Seer.
- When questioned on Grindelwald compared to Voldemort, the Fantastic Beasts cast believed Voldemort was far more evil than Grindelwald, as Zoe Kravitz noted she thought Grindelwald was more complicated than Voldemort while Alison Sudol stated she thought Grindelwald was more evil and Dan Fogler being unsure. When asked who will win in a duel, while Zoe Kravitz said Voldemort, Callum looked unsure and stated "but Harry took him down." and while most of the cast believed Grindelwald would easily win in a fist fight as his body was far more well-built and fit than Voldemort, and Katherine Waterston said she thinks Voldemort would fight dirty and win.
- It was revealed by J. K. Rowling during a tour in 2007 that Albus Dumbledore was homosexual and harboured romantic feelings for Grindelwald. Although she did not initially comment on Grindelwald's sexuality, Rowling later stated in a interview with Melissa Anelli in the enhanced edition of Harry a History that she felt, because Grindelwald was a user and a narcissist, he most likely manipulated Dumbledore's feeling to achieve his own goals. She said that she “[did not] think“ that someone like Grindelwald would reciprocate Dumbledore’s feelings. This left fans wondering about the true nature of their relationship for years. Finally, in 2018, on the Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald digital bonus features, J.K.Rowling clarified Albus Dumbledore and Gellert Grindelwald’s relationship: “Their relationship was incredibly intense. It was passionate and it was a love relationship. But as happens in any relationship.......one never knows really what the other person is feeling. You can't know. You can believe you know. So I'm less interested in the sexual side though I believe there is a sexual dimension to this relationship than I am in the sense of the emotions they felt for each other which ultimately is the most fascinating thing about all human relationships.
- In a deleted scene from the Crimes of Grindelwald Dumbledore tells Newt that many years ago Grindelwald had a vision in which an obscurial kills the man he fears above all others.
- Interestingly of note, Grindelwald is the only character in the entirety of the series to address Tom Riddle by his chosen name, Voldemort, as most people address him as "my Lord" or in rare cases, "Tom", the latter as a form of mockery.
- Johnny Depp's portrayal of Gellert was at first supposed to be more innocent and nice, but David Yates said that even the crew and cast members were believing what Grindelwald was saying and that he had a point, so they had to make him more mean and that is what we see in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.
- In Fantastic Beasts 3, Gellert Grindelwald will keep his heterochromia, according to Dan Fogler..
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (First mentioned) (Mentioned on a Famous Wizard Card)
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (film) (Name seen on Chocolate Frog Cards) (Mentioned in deleted scene)
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (video game) (Mentioned on a Famous Wizard Card)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (video game) (Mentioned on a Famous Wizard Card)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (First appearance) (Appears in photographs) (Appears in vision(s))
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (Appears in photographs) (Appears in vision(s))
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (video game) (Appears in vision(s))
- Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay
- Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (film)
- Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald - The Original Screenplay
- Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald
- The Archive of Magic: The Film Wizardry of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (Mentioned only)
- Fantastic Beasts 3
- Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2017 edition) (Mentioned in foreword)
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7
- LEGO Dimensions
- LEGO Fantastic Beasts
- LEGO Brickheadz: Harry Potter
- Wizarding World
- Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter: Wizards Unite (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter: Magic Awakened (Mentioned only)
Notes and references
- 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.
- Durmstrang did not admit Muggle-born students, and he had a witch for a great aunt.
- Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 6 (The Journey from Platform Nine and Three-Quarters)
- Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (see this image)
- Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay, Scene 116 - "Graves transforms. He is no longer dark, but blond and blue-eyed"
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 18 (The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore) - "The name of Grindelwald is justly famous: In a list of Most Dangerous Dark Wizards of All Time, he would miss out on the top spot only because You-Know-Who arrived, a generation later, to steal his crown." from The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore by Rita Skeeter.
- Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald trailer
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 18 (The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore) - "The very same summer that Dumbledore went home to Godric’s Hollow, now an orphan and head of the family, Bathilda Bagshot agreed to accept into her home her great-nephew, Gellert Grindelwald."
- J.K. Rowling interview on Digital Edition of the Fantastic Beast2 - "“Their relationship was incredibly intense,” she says. “It was passionate. And it was a love relationship. But as happens in any relationship, gay or straight or whatever label we want to put on it, one never knows really what the other person is feeling. You can’t know. You can believe you know. So I’m less interested in the sexual side, though I believe there is a sexual dimension to this relationship than I am in the sense of the emotions they felt for each other, which ultimately is the most fascinating thing about all human relationships.”"
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 18 (The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore) - letter from Albus to Gellert
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 35 (King's Cross)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 24 (The Wandmaker)
- Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (film) (see this image)
- Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (film) (see this image)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 8 (The Wedding)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 23 (Malfoy Manor)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 14 (The Thief)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 18 (The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore)
- "Daily News"
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 28 (The Missing Mirror)
- JK Rowling FAQs - 5. Why did ‘revelio’ undo the effects of Polyjuice Potion?
It didn’t. Grindelwald’s Transfiguration surpasses that of most wizards, so he used a spell, not a potion, to take on the appearance of Percival Graves.
- "Atlas of Celestial Anomalies" from MinaLima Design (prop featured in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald)
- Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald
- Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald - The Original Screenplay, Scene 23
- Behind the Name: Gellert
- Jamie's a bachelor of (dark) arts
- Johnny Depp Leaves Role Of Grindelwald For Fantastic Beasts 3
- Mads Mikkelsen Will Play Gellert Grindelwald in ‘Fantastic Beasts 3’
- "The Leaky Cauldron and Mugglenet interview Joanne Kathleen Rowling: Part Three," The Leaky Cauldron 16 July 2005
- "Is Dumbledore Gay? Depends on Definitions of ‘Is’ and ‘Gay’"
- Gellert Grindelwald's creation | Crimes of Grindelwald Blue-ray DVD
- Mads Mikkelsen confirmed to play Gellert Grindelwald in third Fantastic Beasts film
- See this YouTube video
- Youtube - LEGO Dimensions: Fantastic Beasts Story Pack - Updated Ending
|Professors: Sybill Trelawney · Firenze|
|Known Seers: Calchas · Cassandra Vablatsky · Cassandra Trelawney · Gellert Grindelwald · Inigo Imago · Johan Hoffman · Liz Tuttle's mother · Mopsus · Professor Mopsus · Susie Sooth · Tycho Dodonus · Unidentified Canadian Seer · Unidentified female Seer · Unidentified male Seer|
|Textbooks: The Dream Oracle · Unfogging the Future|
|Methods: Astrology · Bibliomancy · Cartomancy · Catoptromancy · Crystal-gazing · Crystal ball · Dream interpretation · Fire-omens · Heptomology · Ichthyomancy · Myomancy · Ornithomancy · Ovomancy · Palmistry · Scrying mirror · Tarot cards · Tessomancy · Xylomancy|
|Divination at Hogwarts: Divination (class) · Divination Classroom · Divination staircase · Sybill Trelawney's office · Classroom 11 · Xylomancy (class)|
|Acolytes||Carrow | MacDuff | Nagel | Krafft | Krall (deceased) | Abernathy | Vinda Rosier|
|Followers||Aurelius Dumbledore | Queenie Goldstein | Gunnar Grimmson|
|Headquarters||Unidentified home | Nurmengard|
|Death (Manufacturer) · Antioch Peverell · Antioch Peverell's killer · Emeric the Evil · Egbert the Egregious · Godelot · Hereward · Barnabas Deverill · Loxias · Arcus and/or Livius · Mykew Gregorovitch · Gellert Grindelwald · Albus Dumbledore · Draco Malfoy (Master Only) · Tom Riddle (Owner Only) · Harry Potter · (Interred)|
|Death (Manufacturer) · Cadmus Peverell · Unidentified Gaunt · (Generations of Gaunts) · Corvinus Gaunt · Marvolo Gaunt · Morfin Gaunt · Tom Riddle · Albus Dumbledore · Harry Potter · (Lost)|
|Cloak of Invisibility|
|Death (Manufacturer) · Ignotus Peverell · Ignotus Peverell's son · Iolanthe Potter · Unidentified Potter · (Generations of Potters) · Henry Potter · Fleamont Potter · James Potter · Albus Dumbledore (Owner Only) · Harry Potter · James S. Potter · Albus Potter|