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Recently, I had discussions with a friend where we outlined the timeline of the Harry Potter series, with a focus on Voldemort and Grindelwald, and we realized how much they overlap, time wise. This brought up questions:

Since Voldemort was born in 1926ish, he would have been 17 (age of majority) in 1943ish (also, if not fully 17, he’d have been old enough and proficient in magic enough to run away to Europe), 2 years before the fall of Grindelwald. Why did he not leave England to join in his movement? Supposing that it’s because he didn’t want to be second to someone else, why did he not move to Europe to try to fill the power vacuum after Grindelwald’s demise?

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    could possibly fall under future works? – NKCampbell Nov 14 '18 at 14:53
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    There appear to be about seven separate questions here. Perhaps you might want to focus on a single answerable question. – Valorum Nov 14 '18 at 14:56
  • Edited out most of the superfluous questions, and stuck to the main premise - why didn’t Voldemort join Grindelwald, or try to fill the vacuum after Grindelwalds fall? – Seth Nov 14 '18 at 15:05
  • @Seth: just a point here: “after Grindelwald’s demise”? That, is wrong. It should be “after Grindelwald’s defeat. Both in the movie and in the books, Voldy murders Grindelwald. – Shreedhar Nov 15 '18 at 13:31
  • They had slightly different goals, as seen in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Voldemort wanted pure bloods, and people very close to pure bloods to rule, and he cared very much at being as close to immortal as possible. Grindelwald on the other hand wanted the wizards to rule, and he did not care as much about blood relations. He mainly wanted to be very powerful and influential, and for wizards to rule, "For the greater good". – Ginge Nov 16 '18 at 2:45
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The Dark Lord wouldn’t join Grindelwald and be just one follower.

The Dark Lord would have never wanted to join Grindelwald, since he wanted to be alone, separate, and different. Even when he was young, he didn’t want to be tied to other people, which he would have been if he’d been one of many people following Grindelwald.

“Firstly, I hope you noticed Riddle’s reaction when I mentioned that another shared his first name, “Tom”?’ Harry nodded.

‘There he showed his contempt for anything that tied him to other people, anything that made him ordinary. Even then, he wished to be different, separate, notorious.”
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 13 (The Secret Riddle)

He liked to work alone, which he might not have been able to do if he followed Grindelwald, since Grindelwald would be in charge and he’d have to obey orders, another thing he wouldn’t want.

“I trust that you also noticed that Tom Riddle was already highly self-sufficient, secretive and, apparently, friendless? He did not want help or companionship on his trip to Diagon Alley. He preferred to operate alone. The adult Voldemort is the same.”
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 13 (The Secret Riddle)

He certainly wouldn’t want to be just one of many followers who have to obey Grindelwald.

After, he was focused on collecting items to make Horcruxes.

The Dark Lord also wouldn’t have left Britain to go to Europe and attempt to take over from Grindelwald, since at that point, his priorities were to collect suitable objects and make Horcruxes with them. He may also have preferred not to leave Britain. At eighteen, he attempted to become a teacher at Hogwarts, to, among other things, stay closer to the school he felt most at home in.

“No, he did not. Professor Dippet told him that he was too young at eighteen, but invited him to reapply in a few years, if he still wished to teach.”
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 20 (Lord Voldemort’s Request)

Though he had other reasons, he was still attached enough to Hogwarts to want to get a job there.

“Firstly, and very importantly, Voldemort was, I believe, more attached to this school than he has ever been to a person. Hogwarts was where he had been happiest; the first and only place he had felt at home.”
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 20 (Lord Voldemort’s Request)

Even when that didn’t work out, he then got a job at Borgin and Burkes, which, as a place that specialized in objects with unusual and powerful properties, was a good place for him to use to help him come into contact with suitable objects to make his Horcruxes with.

“At Borgin and Burkes,’ repeated Dumbledore calmly. ‘I think you will see what attractions the place held for him when we have entered Hokey’s memory.”
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 20 (Lord Voldemort’s Request)

He was able to find two Horcrux objects as a result of his position at Borgin and Burkes.

“This time, as you will have seen, he killed not for revenge, but for gain. He wanted the two fabulous trophies that poor, besotted old woman showed him. Just as he had once robbed the other children at his orphanage, just as he had stolen his uncle Morfin’s ring, so he ran off now with Hepzibah’s cup and locket.”
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 20 (Lord Voldemort’s Request)

The Dark Lord wouldn’t have gone to Europe to try to take over from Grindelwald because he was trying to gather Horcruxes (from the founders who’d have been in Britain) and additionally, may have preferred to rise to power from his own home country and place where Hogwarts was, Britain.

  • Voldemort thought of Hogwarts as his birthright (from Book 7) and may have thought of Grindelwald's cause as doomed (he had a lot of grudging respect/fear of Dumbledore as a teen atleast.) Also, as he did not know what Grindelwald was basing his rise to power on- that is- that Grindelwald owned the Elder wand and was searching for the other hallows. – Shanty Nov 14 '18 at 16:42
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    I also got the impression that Grindelwald was not well thought of in England, even by the soon-to-be Death Eaters. Not quite their sort of person, perhaps? – Harry Johnston Nov 14 '18 at 19:03
  • I heard from the new film that Grindelwald was in favor of letting witches and wizards marry Muggles, because he wanted magical folk to be able to do whatever they wanted. If we compare that to Voldemort's opinions, at least as expressed in book 7, Voldemort thought that this was wrong, and advocated for people to kill anyone who, to his mind, defiled their bloodline in this way. – Adamant Nov 15 '18 at 3:19
  • I can't see Voldemort joining up with a cause that advocated for magical-non-magical marriages, even if it also supported the supremacy of wizards and taking power for oneself. Also, remember Grindelwald's "for the greater good"? According to Dumbledore, he had convinced himself that what he was doing would actually be good for people other than himself, at least when he was a kid. Voldemort would not likely have supported a cause that involved trying to better the world, no matter that it would seem evil to rational people. – Adamant Nov 15 '18 at 3:20

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