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- "Listen to me, the disapproval of cowards is praise to the brave. Your name will be written in glory when wizards rule the world."
- - Gellert Grindelwald's fanatical ideology[src]
Gellert Grindelwald (c. 1883 - March1998) was a wizard who is 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.
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 1883,  somewhere in Central or Eastern Europe, possibly in the former Austria-Hungary. He was educated at Durmstrang Institute, 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.
Keenly interested in history, lore, and the powerful mystique of magical artefacts, Grindelwald became fascinated with the Deathly Hallows, to the point of appropriating their runic symbol as his own personal emblem and engraving it on the walls of Durmstrang prior to his departure. These engravings persisted for many generations. 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 power and 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. Rumors 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, Grindelwald was almost captured in Switzerland but 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 terrorizing 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.
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