The Fortress of Azkaban has housed the criminals of our magical community for centuries, but its dark past has been kept from the general public. A source from inside the Ministry of Magic’s Department of Magical Law Enforcement has recently provided information that was never made privy to anyone outside of the department – until now.
Azkaban Prison sits somewhere in the North Sea, its exact location shielded from both the Wizarding and Muggle worlds. But what do we truly know about this mysterious place?
Ministry officials are the only members of the Wizarding community who have ever had access to the prisons fortress. In fact, members of the Auror department who track down and detain dark wizards were the only officials who made regular visits to the prison. While Ministers of Magic were required to visit the desolate island by the description of their job, most did not, and will not.
The secrets of Azkaban prison have been guarded as closely as the high-security prisoners kept within the boundaries of the fortress itself. Built in the 16th century, its first known inhabitant was a Dark Wizard by the name of Ekrizdis. Unbeknownst to most, Ekrizdis befouled Azkaban in ways so vulgar, ministry officials who first visited after its discovery never wished to speak of them.
As history states, Ekrizdis used his dark magic to lure muggle sailors to the island and kept them captive to be used in his experiments. His dark magic seems to have known no bounds, and many of the muggles held captive at Azkaban died while they were held prisoner there.
After Ekrizdis’s death, the concealment charms he placed on the island ‘s fortress broke, leading to Azkaban and the island it is occupied on being discovered. The gruesome revelations of torture, despair and dark magic that took place at the bastion left many outfits in the ministry with the notion that it should be laid to waste and destroyed. On the other hand, it was feared that the Dementors would take horrible revenge on anyone who threatened the habitat they cling to and that the Dark Magic that created them may pursue an agenda of its own.
It wasn’t until after the International Statute of Secrecy was passed, and Damocles Rowle was elected as Minister of Magic that putting the fortress of Azkaban to use was discussed again.
Rowle believed that the Dementors of Azkaban would be vital to housing those who break the Wizarding laws of the new world. This notion was met with dissension as many officials felt that the Dementors of Azkaban would not be valuable allies in the years to come and wanted to proceed with the plans that had already been drafted to build a new prison on an island in the Hebrides.
Rowle argued that utilizing the fortress of Azkaban and it’s Dementors as guards would effectively save the Ministry of Magic time, trouble and expenses. Despite many expert wizards and witches opposing beliefs about re-opening Azkaban, Rowle proceeded with his agenda and the fortress was reopened for prisoner intake.
Many years later, after a visit to Azkaban during his tenure as Minister of Magic, Eldritch Diggory (1733-1747) formed a committee to make drastic changes to the Wizarding prison. Documents inside the Department of Magical Law Enforcement mention this visit that Diggory described as “horrific and abhorrent.” He went on further in his notes to state that the treatment of the prisoners was inhumane, and the levels of despair and insanity the dementors caused were unjust, regardless of what crimes earned them their sentence. Diggory campaigned diligently to put into place an alternative to Azkaban, but his plans were derailed when he died while still holding office.
In his death, Hephaestus Gore was elected as the Minister of Magic. Gore, who supported the use of Azkaban, proclaimed such by renovating the prison and even adding additional reinforcements to its structure.
Today, the use of Dementors in Azkaban Prison has earned its ominous reputation. Dementors are creatures who feed on the emotions of their victims and were often thought to be enough of a deterrent to keep the prisoners captive without the need for cells and stone walls.
The prisoners within the walls of the fortress were often driven to the point of insanity within a short time; many simply lost their will to live all together and refused meals, This lead to the wasting of their body as well as their mental fortitude. Various prisoners died during their incarceration, and those who were not claimed by family members were buried in the graveyard on the island.
Additionally, many witches and wizards who have served short sentences within Azkaban have come home with many long term effects of the mental anguish suffered during their stays at Azkaban. Many prisoners faced malnutrition during their stay. This eventually lead to changes in their physical appearances, weight loss, and mental derangement. Dementors have also been noted as being “almost combative” when it came to releasing prisoners with shorter sentences as they did not want to lose their ongoing source of food – a person’s happiness.
One such wizard gave a statement during his reintegration interview claiming severe emotional trauma.
“It was always cold there, the stone walls, the breeze coming in off of the water… it only got worse when the Dementors were around. I felt as if I would never be happy again and all I could hear was a child screaming, crying out. It was constant.”
As a side note to our muggle readers, Dementors have been found to dig up the worst experiences of each person’s life and force them to relive that memory over and over again, each recital seemingly worse than the previous. This fact alone makes it no surprise that these reintegrated witches and wizards have such a hard time adjusting to normal life.
While Dementors have been effective guards for centuries, the first reported breakout of Azkaban prison was on August 1st, 1993 when Sirius Black escaped. The exact details of his escape have never been released, even after Black was exonerated posthumously.
In January of 1996, another escape was orchestrated by the notorious Dark Wizard, Voldemort. The Minister at the time, Cornelius Fudge, was in denial that Voldemort had escaped and returned to the world outside of Azkaban. He made claims to The Daily Prophet on multiple occasions that Sirius Black was behind the breakout and attempted a coverup of the return of Voldemort while slandering Harry Potter for his accusations around the matter.
After time had progressed over the years, the Dementors of Azkaban grew more and more restless. Their food supply threatened by the continued breakouts and prohibitions of the Ministry.
During the Second Wizarding War, Dementors had switched allegiances from the Ministry of Magic to Voldemort himself. This would be later covered up by the Minister of Magic and pushed out of the purview of The Daily Prophet and other Wizarding news outlets.
Moving forward, in 1998 at the end of the Second world of magic, Kingsley Shacklebolt removed the Dementors that were loyal enough to stay at Azkaban from the prison. Shacklebolt made public claims of inhumane treatment and accused the Dementors of ultimately being untrustworthy allies.
Since then, Aurors have continuously guarded the inhabitants of Azkaban prison while altering shifts between their current positions in the field. While thousands of Voldemort’s followers have been rounded up and remain imprisoned to this day, there has been no discussion of returning Dementors to the island.
Newly appointed Minister of Magic Hermoine Granger has been facing ongoing dementor problems. With sightings that only seem to be growing in number by the day coupled with a lack of information regarding Dementors themselves, controversy and speculation continue to ensue.
The question is beckoned; Are Dementors being driven to public areas to feed on our happiness? Are they making a stand to scare the community into forcing the hand of the Minister to return them to their former positions at Azkaban prison? Or is a new dark force driving them to incite fear and panic before making their presence known?
While the answers to these questions are currently unknown, we do hope that Minister Granger can bring us a solution to the problem the world of magic has always faced in lieu of dementors – what do we do with them, if we can not kill them or earn their devotion?
Only time can tell now and if history is doomed to repeat itself, we should all be heedful of the darkness. Remember to keep your wands at the hilt readers – for in any darkness, a Patronus can light the path.