Harry Potter

The war in Ukraine vs. the war in the Harry Potter world


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On July 31, 1980, Harry James Potter was born. The character was created by Joanne K. Rowling a little later, in 1990. These stories about magic captivated entire generations, not just eager 11-year-olds awaiting their Hogwarts acceptance letter to be delivered by an owl.

But the Harry Potter universe is more than just quidditch, magic wands, and an endless flow of butterbeer. It also chronicles the wars within the Wizarding World. Rowling based the First Wizarding War on the events of World War II, comparing the fall of Grindelwald with the defeat of Nazi Germany and the triumph of the Allied forces. The Second Wizarding War, symbolized by the battle between Harry Potter and Voldemort, can reveal parallels with Russia’s war against Ukraine. However, instead of the green flashes of the Avada Kedavra curse, we see orange flashes of multiple launch rocket systems. Instead of Protego Maxima, we have air defense systems; instead of Madam Pomfrey – paramedic units. These are not all the similarities with the magic good vs. evil battle. 




“His filthy little friends told him there was a place, deep in an Albanian forest, that they avoided…”


Voldemort’s stay in Albania from 1981 to 1991 must have nourished his hatred towards muggle-borns and the idea of magical blood superiority. The disembodied dark wizard in snake form, still eager for information, could well have read the Memorandum of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts calling for the dealbanization of Kosovo to get inspired.


Although the connection between the Yugoslav Wars and the Second Wizarding War is highly incidental, the borrowed ideas of dealbanization-demugglization were consumed, digested, and spewed out by the Russian military propaganda machine with great enthusiasm. Russian forces entered Ukrainian territory with the aim of “denazification” and “demilitarization,” and while one head of the double-headed Russian eagle cried about the “genocide of the Russian-speaking population,” the other head declared a real genocide against Ukrainians, as articulated in an article by propagandist Timofey Sergeytsev “What Russia should do with Ukraine.”


Yet the Russians have surpassed even Voldemort in their hatred, as the dark wizard at least recognized muggles” right to exist while Russian propaganda tries to deny 30 years of Ukrainian independence and the existence of a centuries-old culture and language. Sergeytsev writes in his article published by state-owned Russian news agency RIA Novosti “…deep Ukrainianism, fuelled by anti-Russian poison and all-consuming lies about its identity, is one big fake. This phenomenon never existed in history. Nor does it exist today… Changing the bloody mindset of some contemporary Ukrainians, full of erroneous myths, is the most important goal.” Fortunately, the power of the Ukrainian Armed Forces is an effective and vocal objection to such statements, and Ukrainian culture is a potent vaccine against the infection of the “Russian world.”


Horcruxes and sanctions

The search for and destruction of Voldemort’s horcruxes by Harry, Ron, and Hermione is similar to the international community’s sanctions against Russia: Until you weaken the villain and cut off his escape routes, he will return again and again, more angry and formidable.


Just as Voldemort did not feel the loss of his horcruxes, Russians stubbornly ignore the impact of sanctions on their lives. Similar to Tom Riddle, the Russians are deeply convinced of their own invulnerability, invincibility, and impenetrability. But here is the sad truth: When the sharp blade of Gryffindor’s sword cuts Nagini’s throat, there will be nowhere to hide.


The boy who lived vs. The President who stayed

Harry Potter, the archetypal hero of fairy tales, escapes from the Muggle world of oppression into the Wizarding World where he is the biggest celebrity. The unexpected fame burdens Harry, and he struggles with it throughout the story, either enduring, accepting, or resisting its grip. Harry’s fame is fickle. He goes from hero to villain to hero again in the public mind with a magic touch of propaganda.


During Voldemort’s not-so-secret attack on the Ministry of Magic and the magical population of Britain, the public is reading about “Undesirable №1,” while Harry remains a symbol of hope, the reason for the fight, for only a narrow circle of initiates.


Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has earned a title that, to the public, is almost as legendary as “The Boy Who Lived.” The President Who Stayed. Politics, like literature, is made up of myths. We are witnessing the creation of the Hero who looks perfect on the covers of every edition of the Daily Prophet. However, just like the fight against Voldemort, the war for Ukraine’s independence and sovereignty depends on the contribution of hundreds of thousands of people.


The dark mark vs. “Z,” “V,” “O”

Just like the Deatheaters, Russians use symbols to divide the world into “us” and “enemies” (though it doesn’t protect them against friendly fire in a war zone). But if the Dark Mark was a sign of special affiliation with a narrow circle, available to the select few, Russians stamp the stolen Latin letters on everything in their path: tanks, missiles, cars, children, dogs, poles, etc. The “Z,” “O,” and “V” still fulfill the basic function of identification and affiliation: The re-coding of these symbols is forcing artists, politicians, and businesses to abandon the letters of the alphabet to avoid association with the plague of rashism.


Olaf Fudge, Cornelius Scholz

“But now a short, angry wizard stood before him, refusing, point-blank, to accept the prospect of disruption in his comfortable and ordered world — to believe that Voldemort could have risen.”


Many of today’s world politicians could be cast as Fudge, the Minister of Magic. He, like many of the real Muggle politicians, shows a remarkable ability to deny facts that are inconvenient to him and stay focused only on the most routine concerns. He readily consumes Rita Skeeter’s manipulative articles, believing in them for one reason only: The lies suit his fragile worldview. You can always say that Harry Potter is lying, Dumbledore wants to seize the ministerial chair and anything that contradicts Fudge’s opinions is a blatant attempt at discrediting the Minister’s authority.


When Cornelius Fudge finally realizes Voldemort’s threat and pays a visit to the Muggle prime minister, he receives an answer that Ukrainians know all too well: “I have enough on my plate without…” Fudge’s epiphany comes at a high price: The destruction of his career, worldview, and the deaths of wizards and muggles.


Combat style: Forbidden spells against protective spells

“Harry heard the high voice shriek as he too yelled his best hope to the heavens, pointing Draco’s wand: ‘Avada Kedavra!’ ‘Expelliarmus!’ “


Civilization is blind in its faith that the world beyond its borders is no different from it. Violence frightens civilization as a threat to its values. Hence, it denies the need for violence until the very last moment, even if it means resorting to force against its people to prevent the use of “uncivilized” brute methods. The Ministry of Magic resists in every possible way to recognize the return of evil, going so far as to terrorize children and divide the wizarding community from within. Meanwhile, Harry Potter fights off Voldemort’s Avada Kedavra with protective spells until the very end.


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Simple solutions run out as too much time is spent realizing that there can be no understanding or negotiation with those who have chosen the path of genocide. And this realization comes at a terrible price. In the battle for Hogwarts, both Harry, as a symbol of society’s faith, and Molly Weasley, as a part of the same society, resort to casting unforgivable spells, because in the heat of grief and loss, the world becomes black and white, reduced to a single truth – while Bellatrix and Voldemort are alive, the civilized world is under threat. Only the death of this threat, its actual disappearance gives the future a chance.


Women at war: Gender equality in the wizarding world vs. the Ukrainian Armed Forces

“But Ron was staring at Hermione as though suddenly seeing her in a whole new light. “Hermione, Neville’s right — you are a girl… ” “Oh well spotted,” she said acidly.


Here is an interesting fact: The number of women in the First and Second Order of the Phoenix – 25% and 30% respectively – is close to the number of women in the Ukrainian army, where they constitute 22% percent of the military personnel.


In the world of Harry Potter, gender does not determine your ability to fight. The magic wand casts battle spells equally well in both male and female hands. That’s why the fight for Hogwarts and the civilized world includes everyone who wants to resist the deadly invasion: Molly Weasley, Minerva McGonagall, Hermione Granger, Nymphadora Tonks, Ginny Weasley, Luna Lovegood, Mariia Berlinska, Oksana Yakybova, Olena Herasymiuk, Ptashka, Tayra, Yana Zinkevych, Ivanka Chobaniuk, Yaryna Chornohuz, Yulia Shevchyk, Lyudmyla Bileka…


Dementors – PSYOPs


“I felt them. Everything went cold, and this was a very warm summer’s night, mark you. And I felt… as though all happiness had gone from the world… and I remembered… dreadful things…”


If it turned out that dementors were serving the enemy’s warlocks, no one would be surprised. Especially as the feeling of hopelessness, fear, and panic, spreading through various information channels, is not that different from the harmful effect of these monstrous creatures.


But instead of dementors, the Russians use another, no less dangerous beast: PSYOPs, or psychological operations. Whole waves of disinformation are spread through Telegram channels or Viber groups, intent on frightening people, shifting the focus of society’s emotions, and pressuring authorities in the enemy’s interests.


However, as in the case of magical evil spirits, it is possible to counteract declining moods with Professor Lupin’s tips on how to conjure the Expecto Patronum spell: the best memories, reliable sources of information, faith in the Ukrainian Armed Forces and a little bit of chocolate. If we reinforce these tools by completely cutting out Russian content, deceptive lies will not penetrate our unbreakable shield.


Imperius and the Nuremberg trial


After Voldemort’s fall, everyone who supported him was faced with a choice: to admit responsibility for the crimes and receive punishment or escape. Principle IV of the Nuremberg trial – “The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him” — did not work in the Wizarding World. Many former Deatheaters and supporters of Voldemort’s ideology claimed to have been cursed by Imperius, unable to act of their own free will or have space for a conscious choice. How can we criticize the wizarding community if the real-life propagandist Fritzsche was acquitted during the Nuremberg trial?


From this day on, Ukrainians should learn their lessons and avoid following Harry Potter’s footsteps. No matter how boring the lessons in History of Magic are, without learning from other people’s mistakes, we will keep stepping on the same rake, each time surprised that the handle hurts our foreheads as if it were the first time.


Remember that the tongues of rashism are inseparable from the head. Otherwise, the web of their lies will produce new murderers who, like those who once listened intently to Fritzsche’s broadcasts, will believe that they must attack first to prevent an attack on themselves.


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Translation: Sofiia Slaba
Copyediting: Lea Ann Douglas, Terra Friedman King

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