Skip to Content

Gellert Grindelwald Character Analysis: Personality Traits, Family & Patronus

Gellert Grindelwald Character Analysis: Personality Traits, Family & Patronus

Our readers support us. This post may contain affiliate links. We earn from qualifying purchases. Learn More

Gellert Grindelwald was a European wizard considered one of the most powerful and dangerous dark wizards of all time. He dreamed of creating a world in which wizards dominated muggles, and he was willing to take extreme action to see this happen. Grindelwald waged a European Wizarding War in the first half of the 20th century. Albus Dumbledore eventually defeated him.

Grindelwald and Dumbledore shared a youthful friendship that may have blossomed into romance. But this was cut short by the tragic death of Dumbledore’s sister Ariana. The two shared an interest in the Deathly Hallows. Grindelwald found and obtained the Elder Wand. But it was taken from him by Dumbledore when he was defeated.

About Gellert Grindelwald

Born1883 – March 1998
Blood StatusPure Blood
OccupationRevolutionary
PatronusUnknown
HouseAttended Durmstrang Academy
WandElder Wand for a period
Zodiac SignScorpio (speculative)

Gellert Grindelwald Early Life

Gellert Grindelwald was born somewhere in Europe in 1883 into what was probably a pure-blood wizarding family. He was a talented young wizard and also possessed an attractive and merry personality that enabled him to attract and enchant others. He was also a natural-born seer.

He went on to be educated at Durmstrang Institute, also located somewhere in Europe. This school took a more liberal attitude towards the dark arts than Hogwarts.

Grindelwald found himself drawn to the potential held within the dark arts. He also felt restricted by the rules in place to maintain the walls between the wizarding and muggle worlds. Even while he was at school, he began to develop the idea that wizards should take a dominant position over muggles.

Grindelwald and the Deathly Hallows

Grindelwald believed that he was destined to rise to a position of dominance in the wizarding world and lead a wizarding revolution. While at school, he also learned about the Deathly Hallows and developed a keen interest in finding and uniting the three treasures to help him in his cause.

He became so obsessed with the Deathly Hallows that he adopted the symbol of the Hallows as his own symbol. He engraved it on a wall in Durmstrang before he left, and the students there came to associate the symbol with him.

While at school, he engaged in increasingly dangerous magical experiments, which Rita Skeeter described as twisted. The school expelled Grindelwald when he was 16, before graduating.

Educated at Durmstrang, a school famous even then for its unfortunate tolerance of the Dark Arts, Grindelwald showed himself quite as precocious and 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.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Gellert Grindelwald and Albus Dumbledore

After his expulsion from Durmstrang, in the summer of 1899 Grindelwald went to Godric’s Hollow in England to stay with his great aunt Bathilda Bagshot. He was probably attracted to the spot as it was known to have been where Ignotus Peverell, one of the original brothers who possessed the Deathly Hallows, lived and died.

Shortly after he arrived, he was introduced to his neighbor Albus Dumbledore, and the two became fast friends. They were both brilliant young wizards who felt side-lined. Grindelwald by his expulsion, and Dumbledore by the death of his mother, which left him responsible for his two younger siblings, including a mentally disturbed sister. They also shared an interest in the Deathly Hallows.

Grindelwald soon won over Dumbledore with his winning personality and convinced him to become involved in his quest for wizarding domination. Dumbledore tried to temper the idea, saying that it would be for the greater good. But Dumbledore himself knew that this was an empty justification. He clung to it because of his deep feelings for Grindelwald.

The bond between the two was so strong that they made a blood pact never to fight one another.

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.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Grindelwald and Dumbledore Break

When their plans to leave Godric’s Hollow and pursue the Hallows and wizarding domination became serious, Albus’ younger brother Aberforth stepped in and spoke to his brother. He pointed out that he could not drag their sick younger sister Ariana with him on his adventures.

Dumbledore reluctantly admitted that their plans were little more than a dream. But Grindelwald was upset by Aberforth’s interference and attacked him. Albus stepped in to defend his brother and a fight broke out between them. Ariana, drawn by the commotion, also tried to help, but was killed by a stray curse. It was unclear which of the men had cast the spell that killed her.

Grindelwald immediately fled Godric’s Hollow in the aftermath of these events.

Young Albus Dumbledore and Gellert Grindelwald

Grindelwald Obtains the Elder Wand

Now alone on his quest, Grindelwald sought the Elder Wand. He had heard a rumor that the European wandmaker Gregorovitch had come into possession of a powerful wand. It sounded like the Elder Wand, and the wandmaker was trying to reproduce some of its properties. He foolishly shared information about the wand to boost his reputation.

Grindelwald broke into the wandmaker’s workshop and waited for him. He then stunned Gregorovitch and took the wand. This was essential, as he would have to defeat the wizard to gain the loyalty of the wand.

Showing uncharacteristic restraint, Grindelwald did not murder Gregorovitch. While many thought that the wand could only be obtained by murder, Grindelwald had learned that disarming was sufficient to win the wand.

The International Wizard Hunt for Grindelwald

With his confidence enhanced by the wand, in November 1926 Grindelwald started to put his plans for wizarding domination in motion. This included several devastating attacks across Europe with significant collateral damage. He drew the attention of both wizarding and muggle authorities. He became a hunted man.

After a near escape, while he was hiding in a derelict chateau, Grindelwald realized the benefits of surrounding himself with followers. He also created a prison at Nurmengard in Austria as a place for containing his worst enemies. He personally murdered several people during this campaign, including the grandfather of Viktor Krum.

As his power grew, the only wizard that Grindelwald seemed to fear was his old friend Dumbledore. Knowing that the blood pact would only hold Albus back for so long, he began to make plans for their inevitable confrontation.

Seeking a way to defeat Dumbledore without having to fight him directly and break the blood pact, the seer Grindelwald had a vision of a power Obscurial that would be able to kill Dumbledore. An Obscurial is a young witch or wizard who has developed a dark and parasitical magical force due to suppression of their own magic. Grindelwald set off to America to find the Obscurial that he saw in his vision.

Grindelwald in New York

When Grindelwald arrived in New York in 1926, he infiltrated the authorities there. He used human transfiguration to pose as Percival Graves, the right-hand man of President Seraphine Picquery.

In his disguise, he met Credence Barebone, who he believed was connected with the Obscurial in some way. Assuming that the boy was an orphaned Squib, he manipulated him to discover the identity of the Obscurial, promising to bring him into the wizarding world.

His hunt for the Obscurial put Grindelwald in contact with Newt Scamander, as he detected the entity within Scamander’s suitcase. To gain possession of it, he sentenced both Scamander and Tina Goldstein to death, but the two managed to escape.

Meanwhile, he sent Credence to track down his sister Modesty, who he believed was the Obscruial. After this was done, he cruelly rejected Credence and went back on his word. This angered Credence, causing him to reveal that he was the Obscurial. This was a surprise as it is rare for the hosts of Obscurus to live to older than ten, and Credence was already in his early 20s.

Grindelwald then tried to convince Credence to come over to his cause, but he had already lost the boy’s trust. Credence’s Obscrurus rampaged through New York. He was only eventually calmed down by Tina, but it then appeared that the local Aurors killed him.

With his prize seemingly lost, the enraged Grindelwald turned on the Aurors. While he easily overwhelmed them, despite being outnumbered 20 to 1, he was eventually caught offguard by Scamander’s Swooping Evil, that restrained his arms from behind, allowing Tina to summon his wand. A Revelio Charm showed Grindelwald’s true identity.

Grindelwald’s Escape

Grindewald had a silver tongue and was able to convince several of the wizards responsible for his detention in the United States over to his cause. In retaliation, the authorities cut out his tongue and organized to have Grindelwald transferred to Europe.

One newly loyal supporter, Abernathy, exchanged identities with Grindelwald before his transport. This meant that while they were en route, Grindelwald was able to Disapparate to freedom.

He then attacked the carriage that was meant to take him to Europe and killed several Aurors who tried to stop him. Grindelwald then drove the chariot home to Europe with his acolyte Abernathy.

Grindelwald in Paris

Grindelwald soon learned that Credence Barebone had not been killed by the American Aurors and was in hiding in Paris. He ruthlessly had his followers kill a muggle couple so that he could occupy their Paris apartment as his temporary headquarters. Later, when he heard a toddler calling to his slaughtered parents, he reluctantly had the child killed as well.

He used many of his followers to try and find and recruit Credence. Eventually he encountered the boy himself on a Paris rooftop. He tempted Credence by offering him the chance to discover his true identity, giving him a map to the Cimetiere du Pere-Lachaise.

Grindelwald and the Paris Rally

Grindelwald had organized a rally at this location in the Lestrange Mausoleum, and gave a rousing speech.

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…

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (Screenplay)

Grindelwald went on to acknowledge the presence of Aurors in the crowd. When one of his Young witch followers was shocked by this and reached for her wand, she was killed by an Auror. This enraged Grindelwald. He commanded his followers to Disapparate, and he turned to face the Aurors alone.

He created a ring of magical fire enchanted onto to let his loyal supporters pass through. He then turned the fire into a weapon and used it to attack the Aurors. In the course of events he killed Leta Lestrange, and about a dozen of the Aurors present decided to join his cause.

Grindelwald and the Paris fire

Grindelwald then left, leaving his uncontrolled fire to engulf the city. It was only stopped by the remaining Aurors working in cooperation with Nicolas Flamel.

Escaping, Grindelwald returned to Nurmengard with Credence, who was convinced by the events in Paris. Trying to win Credence’s trust, he then revealed to the boy that his real name is Aurelius Dumbledore. This implied that the relationship to his old friend seems to have been part of a plot to win Credence’s trust and turn him Against Dumbledore.

Grindelwald and Credence

Grindelwald’s Global Wizarding War

During the 1930s, Grindelwald campaigned for the position of Supreme Mugwump of the International Confederation of Wizards. He used this platform to declare open war on muggles. This led to six years of chaos in which Grindelwald committed many crimes, but still his old friend Dumbledore would not confront him.

Newt Scamander had obtained the blood vial of Grindelwald and Dumbledore’s blood pact during the Paris rally, so Dumbledore was working to break the pact. But he was also hesitant because he was afraid that Grindelwald would reveal to him who really killed his sister Ariana.

…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.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

While Dumbledore had been working behind the scenes Against Grindelwald for years, Only in 1945 was he finally able to confront him. The two engaged in a duel of epic proportions and Dumbledore triumphed, despite Grindelwald’s possession of the Elder Wand. The result was that Dumbledore took the Elder Wand and became its master.

Grindelwald’s Final Years

The defeated Grindelwald was imprisoned in his own Numengard fortress and would remain there for the rest of his life. There is some evidence that his time incarcerated led him to rethink his actions and express regret.

In 1998, 53 years after his defeat, Lord Voldemort arrived in Grindelwald’s cell looking for the Elder Wand. He had learned from Gregorovitch that Grindelwald had stolen the wand from him.

Grindelwald mocked Voldemort, telling him that he no longer had the wand, and that Voldemort would never possess it. He refused to tell him the location of the Elder Wand, and Voldemort used the Killing Curse on him.

Kill me, then. Voldemort, I welcome death! But my death will not bring you what you seek… that wand will never, ever be yours!

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Of course, it was not long before Voldemort realized that it must have been Dumbledore who had taken the wand from Grindelwald.

Gellert Grindelwald Personality Type & Traits

Grindelwald was an idealist who truly believed in his cause of wizarding domination and was willing to take on the burden of the heavy price it would cost. He was also incredibly charismatic and able to convince others of his way of thinking. He even had the brilliant Albus Dumbledore on his side for a while.

Gellert Grindelwald Zodiac Sign & Birthday

We do not know Grindelwald’s birthday, but he must have been born in 1883 to have been 16 when he arrived in Godric’s Hollow in the summer of 1899. His personality suggests that his zodiac sign may be Scorpio. People born under this sign can appear hard on the outside, but they are incredibly emotional and sensitive. They also tend to be able to make hard decisions and sacrifices when necessary.

Who was more Powerful, Grindelwald or Voldemort?

The two wizards were never pitted against each other, Voldemort only encountering Grindelwald as an old man, defeated, in prison. However, Grindelwald seems to have had more power in the wizarding world and more loyal followers than Voldemort, who maintained his position through fear rather than love and devotion.

Grindelwald also did not suffer from Voldemort’s fear of death. He probably knew about Horcruxes and how to make them but did not split his soul in order to avoid the inevitable.

There is nothing to indicate that Grindelwald and Voldemort shared a family relationship. While Voldemort was a descendant of British wizard Salazar Slytherin, Grindewald comes from the European wizarding world and is probably not connected with Slytherin in any way.

The fact that Grindelwald was the great-nephew of Bathinda Bagshot, who lived in Godric’s Hollow, suggests that he may have been linked with the Peverells. There is also an implication that the Gaunts, Voldemort’s wizarding kin, were descendant from the Peverells as Marvolo Gaunt was in possession of the Resurrection Stone.

Harry Potter also seems to have been descendant from another of the Peverell brothers, as he received the invisibility cloak from his father. Grindelwald might too be a distant Peverell relative. But if Voldemort and Grindelwald are related it seems to have been only distantly, and unknown to the two men.

Mads Mikkelson as Gellert Grindelwald

Mads Mikkelsen, known for playing Hannibal in the TV series of the same name, was brought on to play Grindelwald in the third Fantastic Beasts film.