We know that Voldemort finds out about the Elder Wand by torturing Ollivander when even the borrowed wand (Lucius Malfoy's) fails to kill Harry. We see that Voldemort instantly becomes fascinated by the prospect of possessing the Elder Wand. Ollivander tells Voldemort that he had heard a rumor years ago that Gregorovitch used to have the Elder Wand.

He then tracks down Gregorovitch, and using torture and Legilimency, he finds out that it was stolen by "a thief". After that, through Harry's visions, we see him pondering over the identity of the thief which makes it clear that he wants it desperately.

When Harry arrives at Godric's Hollow, and Voldemort fails to kill him there again, he finally finds a picture of that thief in Bathilda's house and finds out that the thief is Gellert Grindelwald. Then Voldemort visits Nurmengard to talk to Grindelwald, and at the same time Harry, Ron and Hermione are caught by snatchers and taken to Malfoy Manor. The entire, slightly cryptic conversation between Grindelwald and Voldemort is shown in bits and pieces between the whole Malfoy Manor scene.

Closing his puffy eyes, he allowed the pain in his scar to overcome him for a moment, wanting to know what Voldemort was doing, whether he knew yet that Harry was caught. . . .

The emaciated figure stirred beneath its thin blanket and rolled over toward him, eyes opening in a skull of a face. . . . The frail man sat up, great sunken eyes fixed upon him, upon Voldemort, and then he smiled. Most of his teeth were gone. . . .

“So, you have come. I thought you would . . . one day. But your journey was pointless. I never had it.”

“You lie!”

As Harry spoke, his scar burned worse than ever, and for a few seconds he looked down, not upon the wandmaker, but on another man who was just as old, just as thin, but laughing scornfully.

“Kill me, then. Voldemort, I welcome death! But my death will not bring you what you seek. . . . There is so much you do not understand. . . . ”

He felt Voldemort’s fury, but as Hermione screamed again he shut it out, returning to the cellar and the horror of his own present.

At once, Harry’s scar felt as though it had split open again. His true surroundings vanished: He was Voldemort, and the skeletal wizard before him was laughing toothlessly at him; he was enraged at the summons he felt—he had warned them, he had told them to summon him for nothing less than Potter. If they were mistaken . . .

“Kill me, then!” demanded the old man. “You will not win, you cannot win! That wand will never, ever be yours—“ And Voldemort’s fury broke: A burst of green light filled the prison room and the frail old body was lifted from its hard bed and then fell back, lifeless, and Voldemort returned to the window, his wrath barely controllable.

Deathly Hallows. Chapter 23: Malfoy Manor

Grindelwald never tells him anything about the wand and goes as far as to lie and say that he never had it. Also, from the start of the book it had been made clear that Dumbledore and Grindelwald's duel had been very famous.

He had never thought to ask Dumbledore about his past. No doubt it would have felt strange, impertinent even, but after all, it had been common knowledge that Dumbledore had taken part in that legendary duel with Grindelwald, and Harry had not thought to ask Dumbledore what that had been like, nor about any of his other famous achievements.

Deathly Hallows. Chapter 2: In Memoriam

My doubt is why did Voldemort even bother to visit Grindelwald? Upon realizing the identity of the thief, even with his very limited understanding of wand magic, he must have put two and two together to figure out that Dumbledore was the owner of the Elder Wand. Knowing how badly he wanted to possess it, why not go directly to Hogwarts?

P.S: I know that Voldemort couldn't have predicted his conversation with Grindelwald (the fact that Grindelwald will lie and not tell him anything useful) but it still doesn't justify Voldemort's visit when he already knew that the wand was in Dumbledore's possession.

  • You quotes had weird gaps in them which I guess arises from strange copy pasting over. I've, thankfully, never read the books and therefore am unsure to what extent this is accurate to the novels.
    – Edlothiad
    Jan 11, 2018 at 7:17
  • @Edlothiad Actually that's because starting three quotes are from the same chapter but they are not continuous. Hence the weird gaps. Sorry I don't know a better way to edit. But as far as accuracy goes, it is directly from the novels.
    – dobby
    Jan 11, 2018 at 7:21
  • 2
    I am sure Grindelwald implied that it was in Dumbledores possession when he was mocking Voldemort about the wand being gone forever (something about being under the ground maybe?), but I am not sure where the exact quote is.. I will do a proper answer tomorrow if nobody else has.
    – Jesse
    Jan 11, 2018 at 7:26
  • I didn't mean the ones separated by a full-stop, those were clear and I've preserved the minor gap which I think best preserves that view. It was just that some of your quotes had line breaks in the middle of the sentence which was weird.
    – Edlothiad
    Jan 11, 2018 at 7:26
  • @JesseBarnett I have added the entire conversation in my question. It doesn't mention anything about being underground. But I don't have the hardcopy of the book with me right now and these are from ebook so I cannot be 100% sure of its authenticity. But I am fairly certain that Grindelwald didn't say much.
    – dobby
    Jan 11, 2018 at 7:33

3 Answers 3


He couldn't have known whether Grindelwald was still the Master of the Elder Wand during the duel

Voldemort probably had concluded that following Grindelwald and Dumbledore's duel in 1945 and the immediate imprisonment of the former, the allegiance of the Elder Wand would have switched to Dumbledore at that specific time.

Still, he couldn't be sure whether Grindelwald wielded the Elder Wand during their duel, or whether he had lost the mastery of the Wand prior to it.

The most rational thing to do before appearing out of nowhere in Hogwarts, was to pay a visit to him in Nurmengard to find out what happened. It would be no big deal for Voldemort to learn the truth and rule out the aforementioned possibilities. Obviously, when you have an alive previous owner of the Elder Wand and a corpse, you would first go to the living owner, not to the graveyard.

A personal note is that he also couldn't resist to show his superiority over the former Dark Lord. He had the chance to see Grindelwald, the most powerful dark wizard of the 20th century (probably, after himself), rotting in his prison cell, humiliate and overpower him by his mighty position and also learn more things about the Elder Wand, and he would say "no"?

Note regarding Voldemort's assumption of the Mastery of the Elder Wand: Voldemort was in a position to understand and know that killing was only one way to gain the Elder Wand's allegiance. Gregorovich was not killed when he lost the Elder Wand, he was overpowered and lost by another wizard. Murdering was just the signature way of Voldemort to solve his problems. It seemed far more elegant and quick to kill his opponents than to engage in a duel with them. By taking this into account, Voldemort wouldn't get confused by the fact that Grindelwald was alive in Nurmengard (and thus the Elder Wand might still answer to him for not being deceased). This also answers the question why he didn't just cast the Avada Kedavra on Snape; he was afraid that doing that, while wielding the Elder Wand, would have the exact opposite effects (which proved true, in his ultimate duel with Harry Potter).

  • 1
    "Murdering was just the signature way of Voldemort to solve his problems." I absolutely agree on this point. I still think it would have made a tad bit more sense if he had read Grindelwald's mind and confirmed that Dumbledore indeed was the true owner of Elder wand.
    – dobby
    Jan 11, 2018 at 12:32
  • @dobby It's implied that Grindelwald was using Occlumency. He then merely inferred that Dumbledore had owned it. Of course Voldemort would kill him anyway even if Grindelwald didn't mock him, much like he did when he found out from Gregorovitch (spelling ?) that the wand had been stolen. Then after the attack at Godric's Hollow he saw the book (Rita's Skeeter) and knew that it was Grindelwald.
    – Pryftan
    Jan 12, 2018 at 16:32

He couldn’t be sure the Elder Wand would be with Dumbledore.

All the Dark Lord knew at that point was that Grindelwald was the last person he knew to have the Elder Wand. However, he didn’t necessarily know where the Elder Wand had gone from there. Gregorovitch had owned the Elder Wand until it was stolen from him - the Dark Lord couldn’t have even known whether Grindelwald had owned it until his defeat. There were still open possibilities at that point. Some other wizard could have taken it from Grindelwald and then Dumbledore wouldn’t have gotten it, Grindelwald could have hidden it away somewhere - it wasn’t at all certain Dumbledore would have taken it from Grindelwald.

We don’t know that the Dark Lord knew Dumbledore had the Elder Wand.

The Dark Lord only tried breaking into Dumbledore’s tomb after trying and failing to get information about it from Grindelwald. Knowing that Grindelwald had possessed the Elder Wand previously, and that he was famously defeated by Dumbledore, the Dark Lord could easily guess that the Elder Wand might be with Dumbledore. Harry, who was less logically minded, was able to come to the same conclusion that Dumbledore probably had it with the same information.

“Voldemort was at the gates of Hogwarts; Harry could see him standing there, and see, too, the lamp bobbing in the pre-dawn, coming closer and closer.

‘And Grindelwald used the Elder Wand to become powerful. And at the height of his power, when Dumbledore knew he was the only one who could stop him, he duelled Grindelwald, and beat him, and he took the Elder Wand.’

Dumbledore had the Elder Wand?’ said Ron. ‘But then – where is it now?’

‘At Hogwarts,’ said Harry, fighting to remain with them in the cliff-top garden.”
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 24 (The Wandmaker)

While the Dark Lord might not have been sure that Dumbledore might have possessed the Elder Wand after his duel with Grindelwald, breaking into Dumbledore's tomb was a more logical step, and easier than trying to guess other places where the Elder Wand might be. He did in fact find it there, so he was able to end the search after that, even if he hadn’t known that for certain before breaking in.

Grindelwald was the last one the Dark Lord knew physically had it.

The Dark Lord had tracked the Elder Wand’s location from Gregorovitch to Grindelwald, who had stolen it from him. Even if the Dark Lord knew Dumbledore would have been the master of the Elder Wand (which he might not have known), he also needed to know where to find the physical Elder Wand itself. He was following the path of the physical possessions of the wand as much as its ‘mastery’, since it didn’t matter if he’d be the true master of the Elder Wand if he didn’t have the physical wand to use.

“Gregorovitch had the Elder Wand, a long time ago,’ he said. ‘I saw You-Know-Who trying to find him. When he tracked him down, he found that Gregorovitch didn’t have it any more: it was stolen from him by Grindelwald. How Grindelwald found out that Gregorovitch had it, I don’t know – but if Gregorovitch was stupid enough to spread the rumour, it can’t have been that difficult.”
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 24 (The Wandmaker)

The last person he knew who had actually possessed the Elder Wand was Grindelwald, so the logical next step would be to attempt to get information about its location and ownership from him. Grindelwald was locked away in Nurmengard, so he would have been easy to track down. Even if the Dark Lord had already suspected that Dumbledore might have had it, going back to the last known possessor of the Elder Wand would probably be a useful step. He theoretically could have then found out that Grindelwald had hidden the Elder Wand in a cupboard somewhere, and then just be able to go directly to its location.


Well, firstly, Voldemort didn't realize until later that Dumbledore actually had the Elder Wand. And this visit has to do with Voldemort's mis-understanding about the Elder Wand's allegiance.

Remember, at that point, You-Know-Who believed that one could get the allegiance of the Elder Wand only by killing its previous owner (This is also the reason why he kills Snape later (has him killed by Nagini of course); to truly become the Wand's master by owning it as well as its allegiance). And Grindelwald was surely defeated by Dumbledore (the famous battle of 1945), but nevertheless he was still alive.

And talking about the visit, Voldemort visited Grindelwald only to kill him. Because according to his knowledge, the wand still owed its allegiance to Grindelwald. Firstly, even if we assume that Voldemort knew the whereabouts of the wand, he still needed to kill Grindelwald to "own" it. But he didn't. So clearly Voldemort was there to torture out the location of the wand from Grindelwald and ultimately kill him.

  • 3
    Personally, I don't believe that Voldemort thought that the mastery of the Elder Wand was gained only by killing its true master. He only thought that killing was one way to gain its allegiance. That's why he didn't murdered Snape with Avada Kedavra; he was afraid that the wand would backfire and kill him. Later, this assumption proved to be true, as the Wand refused to kill Harry Potter, who was the true owner. Jan 11, 2018 at 10:58
  • @Lefteris008 pardon the confusion, I meant allegiance of the wand itself. I've edited the answer to make it more clear .
    – Shreedhar
    Jan 11, 2018 at 11:02
  • 1
    Yes, I got that. But I strongly believe that Voldemort knew that the allegiance was not only gained by murder but also by overpowering and winning the master. Even if your assumptions are correct, he murdered Snape long after he found that the master of the Elder Wand was Dumbledore, who clearly hadn't murdered Grindelwald. He was hesitant to engage in a duel with Snape though; murdering him seemed far more elegant and quick for Voldemort. But remember: he didn't cast the Avada Kedavra because of fear that the wand would backfire on him. He made Nagini kill the "assumed-to-be" master. Jan 11, 2018 at 11:07
  • I agree. I don't think he went to Grindelwald to find out the location of the wand, that he already knew. And even after killing Gregorovitch and Grindelwald himself and taking the wand from Dumbledore's grave, he still didn't feel that the wand was working as per its true potential. He killed Snape just because he didn't want to take any chances and leave any loose ends.
    – dobby
    Jan 11, 2018 at 12:27
  • I'm not convinced he went there only to kill him (though maybe you used the word 'only' too casually). Perhaps he meant to kill him also, but I don't think he meant to only kill him. He wanted find out more, failed, and then surmised that Dumbledore must have had it. And as far as Voldemort was concerned Grindelwald should die just like Dumbledore and countless others.
    – Pryftan
    Jan 12, 2018 at 16:52

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