The Death Eaters were a group of Dark wizards and witches that followed Lord Voldemort, fighting as the elite of his army during both the First and Second Wizarding Wars. They often wore black hoods with snake-like eye slits to cover their faces. Only the inner circle of the Death Eaters had a Dark Mark burned into his or her left forearm. When Voldemort touched one of them, each of those Death Eaters felt it, allowing them to Apparate to their leader's side.
It is also assumed that as Voldemort was trying to find ways to conquer death, Death Eaters sought similar goals, hoping that by following the Dark Lord, he would share his discovered secrets with them. Although some Death Eaters appear to have been fanatically loyal to Voldemort, such as Bellatrix Lestrange and Barty Crouch Jr., many seemed to serve him largely out of fear. As soon as he was defeated in 1981, many immediately renounced their loyalty and did not attempt to find Voldemort in the intervening years. Those who rioted at the 1994 Quidditch World Cup also fled when the Dark Mark was cast. Bill Weasley speculated then that those Death Eaters were “even more frightened than the rest of us to see him come back”. However, most Apparated to his side if they were able when Voldemort called them upon his return, claiming that they had been loyal all along. In turn, even though Voldemort values the services they provide, and sometimes act as though they were close, he sees them as no more than dispensable servants. Voldemort was willing to sacrifice even the most loyal of them if it serves him well, the most prominent example being Severus Snape, who he thought to the end was faithful. Some Death Eaters delude themselves to thinking that they alone know and understand Voldemort, and even were close to him, but Voldemort never once desired a friend. Becoming a Death Eater meant a lifetime service to Lord Voldemort. They have no right to just "hand in their resignation" if the tasks get too difficult. If they try to back out, then they would be killed. Sirius Black thought his younger brother was killed for attempting to quit after being asked to do something hard, even though later this turned out to be the opposite. Igor Karkaroff deserted the Death Eaters after turning many of them over to the Ministry, and was killed for it years later.
In early summer of 1996, Voldemort sent a group of twelve Death Eaters, led by Lucius Malfoy, into the Department of Mysteries in order to steal the prophecy concerning himself and Harry Potter. Having originally attacked Harry Potter based upon a partial recounting of it, Voldemort now desired to hear the full version in order to understand entirely the nature of the connection between himself and Potter. Harry was lured there, along with five other members of Dumbledore's Army, when Voldemort used their connection to give Harry a vision of his godfather being tortured.
Death Eaters battling to retrieve the Prophecy. However, Harry and his friends managed to elude the Death Eaters and the prophecy was eventually destroyed. A battle ensued between the Death Eaters and several members of the Order of the Phoenix. Eleven of the twelve Death Eaters were captured and Sirius Black was killed; Voldemort and Bellatrix Lestrange fled, but not before Ministry officials witnessed the returned Dark Lord. Open War The raid was a failure for the Death Eaters because their reactivation was no longer a secret and several members were deported to Azkaban, and the return of Voldemort was proved to the sceptical Ministry. Revealed at last to the wizarding community, the Death Eaters proceeded to resume their earlier lifestyle and behaviour. Kidnapping, torturing, and assassinations of wizards and witches, and Muggles began anew as the Second War began.
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