Azkaban appears to be an exceptionally bad place, and many people ended up there for relatively minor infractions (Hagrid did a few months there on suspicion that he opened the Chamber of Secrets, even though there were no fatalities; Morfin Gaunt spend 3 years there for non-fatal attacks on a muggle and a ministry investigator).

On the other hand, Grindelwald was imprisoned in relative comfort of his very own Nurmengard.

This does not add up: he was the most evil wizard of all times (until Voldemort)!

Did Dementors cooperate exclusively with the British wizards? If yes, then it would be reasonable to keep Grindelwald in Azkaban. Huh, on the second thought, Rudolf Hess served his sentence in Berlin...

Were British wizards the only ones who stooped so low as to cooperate with Dementors? If yes, they would have been shunned by the world wizarding community (which is not the case, as they were allowed to host the Quiddich cup). Huh, on the second thought, Nazi Germany hosted 1936 Olympics...

Were there any dementors in Nurmengard? explains that Dementors are confined to Azkaban.

How come the British prison conditions were so much worse for petty criminals than the major criminal in Nurmengard endured?

(And the answer seems to be that, yes, Brits are mean, but no one cares).


1 Answer 1


Grindelwald was not based in Britain.

Azkaban is a British wizarding prison, and Grindelwald never took power in Britain. While Azkaban is a more severe punishment, it would be unusual to imprison him in a country where he had not been active.

“Krum’s jaw muscles worked as if he were chewing, then he said, ‘Grindelvald killed many people, my grandfather, for instance. Of course, he vos never poverful in this country, they said he feared Dumbledore – and rightly, seeing how he vos finished.”
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 8 (The Wedding)

Since Grindelwald had not been powerful in Britain, it would be unlikely that he would be tried and imprisoned there. It would be analogous to having Voldemort tried and convicted in Spain.

“The name of Grindelwald is justly famous: in a list of Most Dangerous Dark Wizards of All Time, he would miss out on the top spot only because You-Know-Who arrived, a generation later, to steal his crown. As Grindelwald never extended his campaign of terror to Britain, however, the details of his rise to power are not widely known here.
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 18 (The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore)

Therefore, the most likely reason that he was imprisoned in Nurmengard instead of Azkaban is because it was in a country where he had been active.

  • 2
    Are you implying that the British magical community are sadists who torture petty criminals for no good reason?
    – sds
    Commented Feb 14, 2022 at 14:52
  • 1
    @sds Well, Dumbledore never approved of using Dementors on criminals. So that was already implied in the books. “Let’s hear his information, I say, and throw him straight back to the Dementors.’ Dumbledore made a small noise of dissent through his long, crooked nose. ‘Ah, I was forgetting … you don’t like the Dementors, do you, Albus?’ said Moody, with a sardonic smile. ‘No,’ said Dumbledore calmly, ‘I’m afraid I don’t. I have long felt the Ministry is wrong to ally itself with such creatures.” - Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 30 (The Pensieve)
    – Obsidia
    Commented Feb 14, 2022 at 15:02

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.