The description on the Harry Potter wiki for Grindelwald says:

Grindelwald left Britain and soon stole the Elder Wand, building an army and rising to power in continental Europe. During his reign of terror, he murdered many wizards and Muggles.

The description for First Wizarding War says:

The Dark Lord's rebellion occurred with the help of his Death Eaters, Dark wizards and witches who served him and brought terror to both Muggle and magical innocents.

Both of those descriptions sound the same. A Dark Wizard brings together a group of loyal followers and then terrorizes the wizard and muggle populations. Why isn't Grindelwald's conquest for power called the First Wizarding War?


Most likely, "First Wizarding War" is a British term. Grindelwald's war wasn't in Britain, and thus not named as a generic war (for a somewhat different but related analogy, WW2 in USSR is called "Great Patriotic War" - the WW1 wasn't since it wasn't a war for Russia's existance).

  • A little correction: a period in WW2 is called "Great Patriotic War" in Russia. Namely, the period from June 22, 1941, when Germany invaded the Soviet Union, to May 8, 1945, when Germany capitulated. – Malcolm Oct 22 '13 at 17:17
  • @Malcolm - memetically, it's the same thing to Russians, though you're technically correct. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Oct 22 '13 at 17:19
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    I am Russian, and I can assure you, it's not the same. Nobody would say that the US dropped atomic bombs on Japan during the Great Patriotic War, for example; that would be ridiculous. When the historic events don't concern the USSR directly, everyone still discusses WW2, just like the rest of the world. – Malcolm Oct 23 '13 at 0:15
  • @Malcolm - When I went to school (in USSR) that was exactly how pretty much everyone except the history teacher referred to entire WWII. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Oct 23 '13 at 1:18
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    Well, definitely not in your first comment, which refers to Russians in present tense. As for my comment, you can call that an addition, then, not a correction. I don't actually see the point in this argument. – Malcolm Oct 24 '13 at 3:38

Grindelwald's realm of influence never extended to Britain. As usual, the Harry Potter series magical Britain does its best to ignore global events.

As Grindelwald never extended his campaign of terror to Britain, however, the details of his rise to power are not widely known here.
--Rita Skeeter
(Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 18)

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