As is evident from this answer, the Ministry was used to Obliviating Muggles that witnessed magic as a matter of course. Obliviators even had their own "headquarters" as part of the Department of Magical Accidents and Catastrophes.

When Voldemort took over the Ministry a certain amount of 'restructuring' was no doubt done to reflect the prioritisation of the Dark Arts and so on. I'm wondering whether it's likely that the Ministry would still have carried on Obliviating Muggles as a matter of course or whether it would still be trying to enforce the International Statute of Secrecy. Indeed, I wonder what would've been in Voldemort's long-term interests?

On the one hand, the whole Magic is Might philosophy dictates the natural supremacy of wizards over Muggles. As such, it'd make sense to make as many public declarations of wizarding might as possible. I'm sure that there are plenty of spells that would be capable of making Muggles cower and tremor. Additionally, Voldemort seems happy to wreak widespread havoc during the events of Half-Blood Prince, with giant attacks and so on.

On the other hand, Voldemort seems to like inducing fear by keeping people on their toes. He rarely appears in public and allows hearsay and rumour to do his work for him. He may well have preferred to focus on destroying the Order, killing Harry and acquiring the Elder Wand before trying to take on the Muggles.

Is it likely that Voldemort or Thicknesse changed Ministry of Magic policy on Obliviating Muggles?

  • voldemorts goal was to subjugate muggles under wizard rule. So revealing the existence of magic was going to happen. – Himarm May 17 '16 at 13:04
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    Why are you asking us? If you didn't institute a policy change you just need to go ask Thicknesse if he did. – Jimmy M. May 17 '16 at 13:50
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    @Himarm I'm not 100% on that. Throughout the series muggles never seem a priority of Voldemort's, he seems far more concerned with his own personal power. I always read the muggle thing as a convenient excuse to gain support. The Wizarding World basically rules muggles as it is, and tends to think of them as brainless cattle - revealing themselves wouldn't give them any advantage, so it'd have to be an act of principle, rather than practicality, that would drive them to it. And probably more a bloody headache than it's worth. – DavidS May 17 '16 at 14:29
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    It's worth noting that the International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy is, well, international. Powerful as he was, Voldemort's ambitions never reached outside the UK; it's possible he didn't want to do anything that would provoke interference from other wizarding nations until he'd consolidated a proper power base. Although he did take the Ministry, there were still significant elements that kept him from feeling secure in his power - particularly Harry and the Order, and the elements of resistance in Hogwarts. Perhaps he would have stopped Obliviating after Harry and the Order were killed. – anaximander May 17 '16 at 15:53

Is it likely that Voldemort or Thicknesse changed Ministry of Magic policy on Obliviating Muggles?

For the time being? I would guess not, based on the following reasoning:

Voldemort isn't very interested in the legal side of matters. He didn't get a Ministry post for himself - he was a very strong wizard, but not a politician. He didn't really need to make the laws, he was strong enough to break them if he wanted - so for convenience, he left lackeys Thicknesse and Umbridge to run the Ministry while he concentrated on crushing his opposition, because direct magical confrontation was his real forte.

The Ministry is a monstrous maze of bureaucracy and apparently one of the biggest employers of the Wizarding world. Aurors, Obliviators, all kinds of troubleshooters, paperworkers, officials... Managing a structure that large is tricky enough - changing existing, working procedures, protocols and processes would've required significant effort even if everyone was too scared to resist - and a change as huge as dismissing the Statute of Secrecy would've possibly been quite destabilizing to the Ministry and the Wizarding world as whole. So I believe it is more likely Voldemort had no plans to immediately retire the Obliviators - they weren't in the way of Voldemort's immediate goals and could be kept out of trouble by keeping them busy with their usual business.

What about in the long term, in the hypothetical scenario that Voldemort would've stayed in power?

In that case I believe Voldemort would've eventually abolished Obliviating muggles, and openly declared his (and the Wizarding world's) existence to the world at large. It matches his character - he loathes muggles and loves to flaunt his extraordinary powers - he would probably feel humiliated hiding from them, and eventually make a forceful public entrance to the muggle scene. After this he would have no longer need for Obliviators as muggle-foolers, and would probably relocate them to other tasks as he saw fit.

EDIT: As TheDarkLord himself pointed out in the comments, the Ministry did do some bureaucratic heavy-lifting by creating a new organ for itself, the Muggle-born registration commission. I believe the reason why such an instrument would have priority over other issues has to do with two reasons: ideological and strategic.

Voldemort's main ideological issue was advancing his racist agenda. Since the issue was very important to him, right there and then, it's likely he urged Thicknesse and his other lackeys to create the commission as fast as possible. Such a move likely had a huge impact on Voldemort's supporters' morale, because outlawing "mudblood" wizards was a precious dream to many of them.

Creating the commission was also very sensible as a strategic tool, because it served as a handy excuse to weed out potential resistance while also instilling a convenient sense of terror over the Wizarding world. It was basically an inquisition that could track anyone to keep them in line and dissuade any internal resistance against Voldemort's plans and the official version of the Ministry's agenda.

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    I like your reasoning so gave you a +1. But the Muggle-Born Registration Commission does show an element of Death Eater interference in Ministry bureaucracy. I guess it's a question of how far they were willing to get bogged down in the detail. – The Dark Lord May 17 '16 at 13:51
  • @TheDarkLord Excellent point. I'll expand with my thoughts on that. – kviiri May 17 '16 at 14:32
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    In addition, it's always easier to add bureaucracy (a new commission), which bureaucracies tend to do themselves over time, than to remove it (abolishing Obliviators), which usually only happens on outside intervention. – Angew is no longer proud of SO May 17 '16 at 15:14
  • "In that case I believe Voldemort would've eventually have abolished Obliviating muggles" -- should read "would've eventually abolished", or "would eventually have abolished" – Vitani May 18 '16 at 13:33
  • @Jocie Thanks, I'll correct it – kviiri May 18 '16 at 13:36

I don't think Voldemort would have changed that policy. Not while the Ministry was still required. He certainly had no love for them but he understood that although powerful, there are a lot of wizards out there that need to be controlled, or otherwise removed before he could do whatever he liked.

Voldemort's plan of seizing the Ministry was about transitioning from an open democratic bureaucracy to an empire. A big part of that is keeping people in the dark. By all means keep them fearful, looking to the Ministry for help, but he knew he couldn't give them a target for the wider wizarding community to rally against. While everybody was in this state Voldemort could safely implement his changes through propaganda and subversion.

And this isn't just a British problem. If he'd slaughtered all the muggles on day one of Emporer Riddle's reign, you'd expect this to cause a fairly significant international reaction. Before doing anything too public, he'd have to make sure enough of the rest of the world was on side.

And it's really only after that could global wizarding governments be dissolved and muggles formally be declared "fair game".

  • And yet the Ministry did a lot of the opposite of what you suggest didn't they? The crimes against the Muggle-borns, having the Dementors all over the place, changing Defence Against the Dark Arts to just the Dark Arts and many other things like that. He hardly cared about regulations that didn't fit his agenda and anything that didn't fit his agenda was changed without much resistance. Those who resisted it were against him already anyway (whether directly or indirectly). – Pryftan Nov 22 '17 at 2:55

The answer depends on two things.

1) The much-discussed question of whether Muggle technology would or would not beat magic in a war or conflict. There is a whole TV Tropes page on this subject: "Muggles Do It Better"

2) What Voldemort believed was the answer to the question of whether Muggles could really be a threat to him. He might be wrong in either direction.

I've no doubt Voldemort would enjoy openly killing Muggles and/or getting the terrified submission of the Muggle world. But he is not stupid. If Death Eaters are openly committing mass murder, this means war, and Muggles are not without weapons. True, the stories are set in the 1990s when the internet and mobile phone technology that might be used to track down wizards were not so advanced as today, but they existed. Even a small chance of having his current whereabouts discovered by GCHQ and obliterated by a nuclear weapon would probably be reason enough to keep the masquerade going, at least for now. Also bear in mind that once the Statute of Secrecy were out the window, many good wizards would no longer have any reason not to seek alliance with the Muggles. Voldemort must know that.

Then again, he is an arrogant despot accustomed to thinking of Muggles as "brainless cattle" as DavidS put it in his comment. But would he be in for a surprise if he took them too lightly?

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