Who are Grindelwald’s Supporters?

I just finished reading a Pottermore article that included this synopsis of The Crimes of Grindelwald:

We don’t want to give too much away, of course, but here is a snapshot of what is in store. At the end of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the powerful Dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald was captured in New York with the help of Newt Scamander. But, making good on his threat, Grindelwald escapes custody and sets about gathering followers, most unsuspecting of his true agenda: to raise pure-blood wizards up to rule over all non-magical beings.

Read the full article here: https://www.pottermore.com/news/fantastic-beasts-the-crimes-of-grindelwald-screenplay-to-be-published-later-this-year

Most of this is nothing new, but I was very interested to see one detail in particular: most of Grindelwald’s followers do not know about his true agenda. That raises the question of what, exactly, they think he’s doing.

To be fair, most of the Death Eaters didn’t know Voldemort’s true agenda, either. They did not know the full extent of his attempts at immortality, which he kept carefully secret, and Dumbledore made it clear that Voldemort did not trust or confide in his followers. However, they did know he hated muggles and muggle-born wizards, and they knew about his plans to take over the magical world. They were there because they agreed and wanted those things, too.

Grindelwald seems to have a very similar agenda (even the pure-blood obsession, it seems like, although that has only been mentioned in promos for the upcoming movie and was not explored in Deathly Hallows or Fantastic Beasts). And, like Voldemort, he has an even deeper agenda that involves mastering death and making himself invincible. The difference is that, according to Pottermore, Grindelwald is even more secretive about his true goals. So, who exactly are Grindelwald’s followers?

There’s almost certainly in inner circle that knows his true goals – at least the world domination part if not the Deathly Hallows part. But there are many others who his surface-level message might appeal to. Depending on just how vague Grindelwald is being about his agenda, many different groups might see him as a positive force for change, from to pure-bloods who believe they’re superior, to muggle-borns and squibs who feel frustrated living double lives, to anyone who has trouble blending in. I would not be surprised if he has a very large American following, given the ultra-strict Rappaport’s Law, which bans even casual friendship between wizards and muggles. His actions so far seem to be mostly focused on terrorist-style attacks and violent attempts to reveal the magical world, so I would guess that his followers are mostly driven by anger and frustration. The one thing they have in common might be that they’re sick of the status quo.

The synopsis makes it sound like Grindelwald is actively recruiting in the upcoming movie. This could just be in a general, off-screen sense; Voldemort was theoretically recruiting in books 5-6, but the only character to join the Death Eaters was Draco Malfoy. However, I wonder if Grindelwald will try to recruit any of the main cast. Here are my thoughts:

  • Newt is already working with Dumbledore and knows too much about Grindelwald to join him. Tina is an auror for MACUSA, seems to believe in Rappaport’s Law, and would have no reason to support him. They’re probably out.
  • Grindelwald has already tried to recruit Credence once and may try again.
  • Leta Lestrange is probably already working for him. Theseus Scamander is working against him, but they’re engaged. There’s definitely some potential for an interesting storyline there.
  • Queenie and Jacob are in love, but were forced apart in the last movie. Under Rappaport’s Law, they will never be allowed to get married, and he will never be allowed to even remember her. They just might become desperate enough to see Grindelwald as an appealing alternative. The synopsis goes on to say: “Lines are drawn as love and loyalty are tested, even among the truest friends and family”. Is there a reason it was so important to mention that Queenie has trouble reading minds that don’t think in American English?
  • There’s a new character called the Maledictus, who is under some kind of a curse. A lot of people have been speculating that she’s enchanted to turn into a snake, and might become Nagini. If she can’t control her transformations, a curse like that would be very hard to hide and make it impossible for her to blend in in the muggle world. I wouldn’t be surprised to see her working for Grindelwald, if the theories are true.

Sadly, it seems like the people who are most vulnerable to Grindelwald’s influence are the ones who ultimately stand to lose the most if he succeeds. While Voldemort recruited mostly pure-blood wizards who agreed with his goals, Grindelwald is clearly good at marketing his movement to people who probably wouldn’t support him if they knew everything. It will be interesting to see to what extent the series chooses to explore this, because it’s one of the most significant contrasts between Grindelwald and Voldemort.


Linking Voldemort and Grindelwald


In this recently-released image from The Crimes of Grindelwald, Grindelwald is shown accompanied by Vinda Rosier, one of his supporters. The name should sound familiar to Harry Potter fans, since she shares last name of several minor characters in the original series, all of which have some connection to Voldemort.

Vinda Rosier and Leta Lestrange both seem to be Grindelwald supporters, which in a way is surprising, because Deathly Hallows makes it sound like Grindelwald was never powerful in Britain. It makes sense for some British wizards and witches to think he has the right idea, but his army should be mainly Durmstrang and Beaubatons graduates, not previous generations of Slytherin/Death Eater families.

However, Grindelwald is sort of a precursor to Voldemort. Their goals and methods are slightly different, but they are united in their belief that wizards are superior to muggles and that “pure-blood” wizards are superior to muggle-borns. In that way, it makes sense that a few of the ancestors of the Death Eaters would be drawn to Grindelwald just as their descendants are later drawn to Voldemort.

Which brings me back to the Rosiers. Although they’re not a prominent Death Eater family like the Malfoys or Lestranges, they’re woven into so much of the backstory that they were almost certainly important in a behind-the-scenes way.

Tom Riddle Jr. was born December 31, 1926, not long after the events of the first Fantastic Beasts movie.  At this point, he’s a very young child growing up in a muggle orphanage. Therefore, the unnamed Rosier who was one of his school peers would also be an infant or be born very soon. Could Vinda be his mother? If so, then he would grow up surrounded by Grindelwald supporters and longing for the day when he, too, could fight for them. At school, he meets Tom Riddle, a classmate with ideas very much like what he’s heard at home. Grindelwald is defeated in 1945, around the time Tom Riddle and his classmates leave Hogwarts, leaving a power vacuum he’s all too happy to fill. Rosier, as the child of a Grindelwald supporter, would have no love for Dumbledore and most likely a desire for vengeance. He becomes one of the first Death Eaters.

Evan Rosier, presumably the older Rosier’s son, went to Hogwarts at the same time as Snape, and they were part of “a gang of Slytherins who nearly all turned out to be Death Eaters”. Therefore, Evan Rosier was one of the bad influences that led Snape to become a Death Eater himself. He died during the first war against Voldemort, killed by an Auror while trying to avoid capture. Said Auror is implied to be Mad-Eye Moody, who mentions that Rosier “took a bit of me with him”. Although Evan Rosier died before Sorcerer’s Stone begins and is never really developed as a character, he definitely made an impact through his interactions with Snape and Moody.

But it doesn’t end there. Let’s assume that Vinda is Druella Rosier’s mother as well. Druella Rosier grows up much like her unnamed brother, surrounded by pro-Grindelwald sentiment, and in the aftermath of Grindelwald’s defeat, marries Cygnus Black.

When Sirius describes his family to Harry, he says that his parents were never Death Eaters. It’s not that they were against the Death Eaters, per se, but they weren’t about running around in masks and killing people. They were content to cheer from the sidelines. However, Druella’s mother was not, and neither is her brother. We don’t know if Druella was ever a Death Eater or an active Grindelwald supporter, but she definitely had relatives who were, and she might very well have, much like Bellatrix, dreamed of sending her own children to fight for the Dark Lord. Fierce, ruthless Bellatrix would have wholeheartedly embraced the role. Knowing that the Lestranges were another old family of Death Eaters and Grindelwald supporters, I can see her seeking out Rhodolphus Lestrange as a husband, not out of love but as a way to get into Voldemort’s inner circle. Before long, the whole extended family is working for Voldemort.

Now here’s the interesting thing: the Rosiers and Lestranges were longtime Death Eater families, but the Malfoys weren’t, nor is there any sign yet that they were involved with Grindelwald. Older generations of Malfoys come across as more like Sirius’ parents, utterly despicable but uninvolved, and Draco’s grandfather even seems to have been an old friend of the stubbornly neutral Professor Slughorn. I tend to imagine Lucius Malfoy as a first generation Death Eater who joined well after Voldemort’s rise to power began. Snape, Barty Crouch Jr., and Igor Karkaroff would also fall into this general category. These newer recruits typically lack the fierce loyalty of the ones born into Voldemort’s service and were drawn in by promises of greatness but unwilling to go to prison for him once he was gone. They would likely have been recruited by in-laws or classmates, and in the case of Lucius Malfoy, that would be his wife’s family.

And Regulus Black? His parents weren’t Death Eaters, but they had the same kind of twisted morals. He was the youngest of the family, and as he was growing up, his cousins would have already been getting more and more entangled with Voldemort. It wouldn’t have taken much for one of them to whisper in his ear that this is the way to save the family’s honor after Sirius and Andromeda’s betrayals. And he would have believed it, because everything Voldemort did was in line with his parents’ beliefs, if not their actions.

There’s no way of knowing yet if Vinda Rosier is directly related any of these people. Maybe she’s an aunt or a distant cousin instead. Maybe Rosier is her maiden name and she marries into a different family. Maybe she dies childless and has no impact on the main Harry Potter story at all. But it would be an odd choice to give Grindelwald a supporter from an important Death Eater family and not expect there to be some connection. Leta Lestrange can’t be Bellatrix’s ancestor, because Bellatrix is a Lestrange only by marriage, but Vinda Rosier can, and it makes a lot of sense that she would be.

Almost all the high-profile Death Eaters from the main Harry Potter series can be traced back either to the Rosier and Lestrange families or to Tom Riddle’s original group of “friends”, which included members of both families. Now we know that the Rosiers and Lestranges were Grindelwald supporters before they joined Voldemort. While the two had different goals and methods, Voldemort did not just emerge to fill the power vacuum left by Grindelwald but in fact inherited his supporters as well.

Contrasting Motives and Where to Find Them

One thing I’ve noticed about Fantastic Beasts is that each of the main quartet is motivated by love, while the rest of the cast is motivated by fear or hatred.

Newt loves his animals and spends the movie trying to protect them. Tina seeks to do what is right and is driven to help those who are vulnerable, while Queenie loves people, especially her sister. And by opening a bakery, Jacob wants to be able to make other people happy doing something that he loves. When they are drawn into the movie’s conflict, it is in defense of the things they hold dear.

In contrast, President Seraphina Picquery is motivated by fear that the magical world will be exposed, Credence Barebone by fear of his own repressed powers, his mother Mary Lou by hatred of magic, and Grindelwald and his supporters by anger at the status quo and disdain for muggles. All three competing factions – MACUSA, Grindelwald, and Second Salem – define themselves by hatred and fear of each other.

While Newt and his friends are of course afraid in dangerous situations, they never allow their fear to control them. They certainly never give themselves over to hate. This contrast between the film’s four heroes and the world that surrounds them emphasizes the fact that in spite of their circumstances, they are constantly trying to do good and acting in defense of the things they love and value.

Percival Graves, Credence Barebone, and the Sign of the Deathly Hallows

“You want to join the wizarding world,” one of the latest Fantastic Beasts promos begins. “I want those things, too.”

Wait … things, plural? What else was on that list? I have some ideas, but I’ll get to them later. The same voice continues: “There’s something else. Something I haven’t told you.”


Yes, that’s the sign of the Deathly Hallows, and that’s Percival Graves talking to Credence Barebone, again. Unlikely allies is a pretty big understatement, with one being a wizard and the other a Second Salemer, but I’m more convinced than ever that they’re working together on something, and I’m certain Graves is working for Grindelwald. Why? Because this is not the first time he’s been linked with the sign of the Deathly Hallows, which of course was used by Grindelwald during the same time period when the movie takes place. It’s right there on his poster:


It’s also not the first time he’s said things that sound like Grindelwald. “We’ve been living in the shadows for too long” comes straight out of Grindelwald’s talk about wizards revealing themselves and dominating muggles.

So here’s a theory: Credence Barebone – adopted son of the Second Salem leader – is in fact a wizard. Because of the strict American separation of the magical and “no-maj” worlds, as well as his family’s anti-magic views, he never had the chance to attend Ilvermorny or be a part of the wizarding world. Percival Graves is drawn to Grindelwald’s ideas as an alternative to Rappaport’s Law and a way to bring down the New Salem witch hunters – or maybe just because he’s power-hungry, depending on how (un)sympathetic a character he turns out to be. He discovers Credence’s secret and draws him into their plans, with the conflict between their faction and the Second Salemers unfolding at the same time that Newt’s magical creatures get loose – and, of course, the two plotlines becoming tangled together.

Watch the promo here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qB_F_Pzc-Vw


Fantastic Beasts Speculation

One thing I’ve said before is that it looks like Fantastic Beasts will be about what happens when the magical and muggle worlds collide. With Rappaport’s Law preventing wizard/muggle marriages and even friendships, the Second Salem group looking to start a witch hunt, and of course the basic premise of magical creatures loose in New York City, that seems fairly obvious.

Oh, and there’s Grindelwald. I didn’t make the connection before, but Grindelwald’s rise to power – mentioned in one of the trailers – was all about muggle vs. wizard conflict. He believed that wizards’ powers gave them the right to rule over muggles, and that taking control would be “for the greater good” – or at least, that’s the justification he gave to Dumbledore. Whereas the Death Eaters believed in excluding muggles and muggle-borns, something that was dependent on staying hidden, Grindelwald’s agenda could only have been fulfilled by revealing their existence. Stepping out of the shadows, so to speak.

Wait a moment. Where have I heard that before?

In the most recent Fantastic Beasts trailer, two men are standing in an alleyway, looking at a wall plastered with Second Salem flyers, and one tells the other, “We’ve been living in the shadows for too long”. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think the two men are Percival Graves, a MACUSA auror, and Credence Barebone, from the New Salem Philanthropic Society – an odd couple of people to be having that sort of conversation. Who is “we”?

But what if … Credence Barebone, who is supposed to be important somehow, is in fact a wizard? It must be hard to be a muggle-born wizard under Rappaport’s Law, and even harder if your family is devoted to wiping out magic. Someone in that position might hide their powers and lash out even harder against witches and wizards, or might be vulnerable to manipulation by someone like Grindelwald, who thought wizards should take control.

Surely he had followers, or else he never would have gotten where he did. In a setting like 1920’s Wizarding America, where tensions between wizards and muggles apparently are already high, it’s not hard to imagine that some people would have thought he had the right idea.

And with that in mind, with five movies to go, it would be a lot more interesting to see Grindelwald’s rise and fall than to watch Newt Scamander chase magical creatures around different muggle cities. I hope that’s the direction the series will take.