Why Did Dumbledore Leave Sirius to Rot in Azkaban for All Those Years?

Why Did Dumbledore Leave Sirius to Rot in Azkaban for All Those Years?
Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Riddle us this: shouldn’t Dumbledore, who knew Sirius Black well from Hogwarts and the Order, have at least tried to uncover the truth and save him from Azkaban?

In the entire Harry Potter series, Sirius Black had arguably the most heartbreaking fate: hated by his family, traumatized by the war, lost his friends, imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit, hunted like a dog (stop it!), kept locked, and then killed in front of the only person in the world he still had and cared about… Ouch. That hurts.

For what it’s worth, Sirius’s fate was largely the responsibility of many people even apart from Peter Pettigrew, the traitor, and Barty Crouch, the man who threw him in Azkaban without any trial.

There were others, those close to him and powerful enough to intervene, who turned their backs and never helped Sirius.

Albus Dumbledore was Sirius Black’s teacher and leader in the Order of the Phoenix. He taught Black for many years and fought alongside him, and he must have known that for Sirius, there was nothing more important than friends and nothing more despicable than betrayal. Why didn’t he try to help his former student and fellow soldier?

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As ugly as this situation appears, we believe that the answer is pretty logical.

By the time of the Potters’ death, Dumbledore had known there was a rat in the Order for quite some time — a spy relaying information to the Dark Lord. Sirius Black, as far as the Headmaster was aware, was the Secret Keeper of James Potter’s house, the only person who could have revealed its location.

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The setup Pettigrew pulled off filled in the rest of the picture. Sirius Black clearly murdered numerous Muggle civilians and his other friend soon after the Potters were killed by Lord Voldemort, and he was caught in the act. The rat, the Secret Keeper, the bodies of Muggles and fellow Order members — the picture was too obvious.

But most importantly, Sirius himself never tried to deny anything.

After everything that went down, Black was shaken to the core, laughing insane laughter and blaming himself for letting his best friends die. Sirius accepted the punishment he didn’t deserve precisely because he thought he deserved it.

“Harry…I as good as killed them…I persuaded Lily and James to change to Peter at the last moment, persuaded them to use him as Secret-Keeper instead of me…I’m to blame, I know it,” Sirius tells Harry in The Prisoner of Azkaban.

As if the pieces of the puzzle were not coming together perfectly before that, with the lack of resistance from Sirius Black himself and the guilt written all over him, there was virtually no reason for Albus Dumbledore to investigate this case further. He should have, really — but objectively speaking, he didn’t see a reason to.

So basically, Sirius suffered a dozen years in the worst prison in the world thanks to being too self-conscious and taking the blame for his best friend’s death on himself.