Georgy Malenkov Biography

(Soviet Politician Who Briefly Succeeded Joseph Stalin as the Leader of the Soviet Union)

Birthday: December 6, 1901 (Sagittarius)

Born In: Orenburg, Russia

Georgy Maximilianovich Malenkov was a Russian statesman and Politburo member. After the death of Joseph Stalin, he was the leader of the Soviet Union from 1953 to 1955. Raised in a wealthy farming family, Malenkov joined the Russian Revolution of 1917 as a volunteer in the Red Army. He came to prominence as an important figure during the Civil War. Through his significant other, Malenkov had a personal connection with Vladimir Lenin, which would enable his steady rise through the ranks within the Soviet leadership. He also developed a working relationship with Stalin, after he was designated to oversee the party’s records. He closely worked with Stalin during the purges and at the advent of the World War II, he was entrusted with the responsibility of leading the Soviet missile program. Stalin passed away in March 1953 and Malenkov immediately seized power over both the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) and the nation's Council of Ministers. While he was forced to give up his hold on the party apparatus soon, he remained the Premier of the Soviet Union up until 1955 before Nikita Khrushchev, the First Secretary of the CPSU, deposed him. In 1957, he tried to organise a coup against Khrushchev but was unsuccessful. As a result, he was removed from the Politburo and sent on an exile to Kazakhstan.
Quick Facts

Also Known As: Georgy Maximilianovich Malenkov

Died At Age: 86


Spouse/Ex-: Valeriya Golubtsova

father: Maksimilian Malenkov

mother: Anastasiya Shemiakina

Political Leaders Russian Men

Height: 5'7" (170 cm), 5'7" Males

Died on: January 14, 1988

place of death: Moscow, Russia

Notable Alumni: Moscow Highest Technical School

More Facts

education: Moscow Highest Technical School

  • 1

    What role did Georgy Malenkov play in the Soviet Union after Stalin's death?

    Georgy Malenkov briefly served as the Premier of the Soviet Union following Stalin's death in 1953, before being removed from power in 1955.
  • 2

    What were some of the key policies implemented by Georgy Malenkov during his time in power?

    During his brief tenure as leader, Malenkov focused on economic reforms and de-Stalinization efforts, such as the release of political prisoners and some relaxation of censorship.
  • 3

    How did Georgy Malenkov's leadership style differ from that of Joseph Stalin?

    Malenkov was known for being more conciliatory and less authoritarian than Stalin, advocating for a more collective leadership style within the Soviet government.
  • 4

    Why was Georgy Malenkov ultimately forced out of power in the Soviet Union?

    Malenkov's attempts at reform and de-Stalinization were met with resistance from hardline Communist Party members, leading to his removal from the premiership in 1955.
  • 5

    What was Georgy Malenkov's role in the Soviet nuclear program?

    Malenkov played a significant role in overseeing the development of the Soviet Union's nuclear weapons program during his time in power.
Childhood & Early Life
Georgy Malenkov was born on January 8, 1902, in Orenburg, Russian Empire. His father was Maksimilian Malenkov, a prosperous and affluent farmer in Orenburg province, while his mother, Anastasiya Shemiakina, was a daughter of a blacksmith. Malenkov’s maternal great-grandfather was an Orthodox priest.
Malenkov was an impressionable teenager when the revolution and the Civil War started. His family was dislocated during the turmoil that ensued. After graduating from Orenburg gymnasium only a few months before the revolution, Malenkov witnessed his family being dislocated because of the revolution.
In 1918, after the Civil War broke out, Malenkov enlisted in the Red Army as a volunteer, taking up arms against the White Russian forces alongside the communists. He was one of the most eager converts of the ideology.
In 1920, he became a part of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU). During the final years of the Civil War, he served as a political commissar on a propaganda train in Turkestan.
Continue Reading Below
Political Career
Although the White Russians were active up until 1934, the Civil War all but ended in 1923. The Bolsheviks spent the 1920s consolidating their power in the erstwhile empire. Malenkov emerged as a tough communist Bolshevik, who was completely devoted to the cause.
He quickly rose through the party ranks to become the Communist Secretary at the military-based Bauman Moscow Higher Technical School. Malenkov reportedly did not complete his university graduation, choosing to pursue a career in Soviet politics instead. Some sources, however, argue that he did receive a degree in electronics from Bauman.
During this period, he developed a friendship with Vyacheslav Malyshev, who would become a powerful man in Soviet Russia in later years and lead the Soviet nuclear program along with Igor Kurchatov.
By 1924, Stalin had recognized Malenkov’s effectiveness and designated him to the Organizational Bureau (Orgburo) of the Central Committee of the Soviet Communist Party. A year later, he was assigned to the Orgburo of the Central Committee of the CPSU.
Malenkov worked directly under Stalin when he helmed the project of keeping records on the members of the Soviet communist party. Over the course of the next ten years, two million files were prepared on the members. These files were extensively used in the treason trials during Stalin’s purges.
Nikolai Yezhov was a Soviet secret police officer under Stalin, serving as the head of People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs (Narodnyy Komissariat Vnutrennikh Del, NKVD for short).
From 1936 to 1938, Yezhov oversaw mass arrests and executions during the purges. However, he ultimately fell from Stalin’s favour and power as the Politburo feared that Yezhov might reveal Stalin had ordered the purges. Malenkov collaborated with Stalin and other members of the Politburo in bringing Yezhov down, which eventually led to his execution.
Malenkov assumed the post of the head of the communist party's Cadres Directorate in 1939, effectively getting control over the personal matters of party bureaucracy. That year, he was also appointed as a member and secretary of the Central Committee and promoted as a full member of the Orgburo. By February 1941, he had been included as a candidate member in Politburo.
If the Civil War was the “greatest national catastrophe that Europe had yet seen”, the effect of the War World II on the Russian society was apocalyptic. According to academic estimations, about 27 million Russians, both military and civilian, perished.
Continue Reading Below
Following the war, the Soviet economy, which had seen a steady rise prior to the war, was in complete disarray: factories had been destroyed, railways disrupted, and mechanized farming was non-existent. The Politburo had to initiate a new version of the Five Year Plans to pull the country out of its third world economy.
The German invasion of Russia in June 1941 resulted in some drastic changes in Moscow. The Politburo was caught completely by surprise by the German aggression as in August 1939 they had signed the German-Soviet Nonaggression Pact with Nazi Germany. However, they responded accordingly.
Malenkov had been deemed as a highly competent administrator and was included in the State Defense Committee (Gosudarstvennyj komitet oborony, GKO) along with Lavrentiy Beria, NKVD chief after Yezhov; Kliment Voroshilov, a high-ranking officer in the Russian military; and Vyacheslav Molotov, statesman and diplomat, with Stalin himself chairing the committee.
This small group of men held all the economic and political power in the country. As a member of this committee, Malenkov was one of the five most powerful men in Soviet Russia. Anastas Mikoyan, Commissar of Foreign Trade, and Nikolai Voznesensky, First Deputy Chairman of Sovnarkom, also joined the committee later.
From 1941 to 1943, Malenkov supervised the military aircraft production. He was also in charge of the nuclear weapons program. In 1943, Stalin made him the chairman of the committee that looked after the post-war economic rehabilitation in several liberated areas, with the notable exception of Leningrad.
At Stalin’s orders, Malenkov and Beria worked together in creating the Soviet missile program infrastructure. Malenkov served as the chief of the Soviet Missile program with Dmitri Ustinov as his deputy. Ustinov would become an important figure in the Soviet government in later years. He was a rocket scientist and later was appointed as the defence minister of Soviet Russia.
Malenkov and Ustinov, along with Mikhail Khrunichev, statesman and lieutenant-general in the technical and engineering corps, set up the Soviet missile and rocket program. In one of their first moves, they used the German missile industry that had already been in place, assimilating it into their program.
Malenkov oversaw the Soviet government taking control of the German V2 missile industry, which, in its entirety, was shifted to Moscow from Peenemünde.
This relocation resulted in immeasurable success. Not only the Russians were able to create their own indigenous missiles (Vostok missiles) because of that, it also played a pivotal role in the creation of the Russian space program (Sputnik artificial satellites). Malenkov also simultaneously set up several space centres, including Kapustin Yar and Khrunichev missile centre.
Continue Reading Below
During the World War II, Georgy Konstantinovich Zhukov was the most decorated and celebrated military commander in Soviet Russia, having won decisive battles against the Nazi Germany in Leningrad, Stalingrad, and Berlin. In the first few years after the war, Zhukov enjoyed a celebrity status in the country and that worried Stalin, whose own hold on power partly stemmed from his popularity with the public.
Stalin and his loyalists such as Malenkov and Beria became suspicious of Zhukov as he had developed a close friendship with General Dwight D. Eisenhower. They feared he had garnered capitalistic tendencies.
After the War World II ended, Malenkov began to build a comprehensive case against Zhukov and several other military officers who were being considered as national heroes. Malenkov accused Zhukov of anti-revolutionary behaviour and selfish “Bonapartism”. He arranged Zhukov’s downfall and his demotion in rank.
The way Malenkov dealt with Zhukov deeply impressed Stalin. In 1946, Malenkov joined the Politburo as a candidate member. In 1948, after the mysterious death of his political rival, Andrei Zhdanov, Malenkov became one of Stalin’s most favoured associate in the Soviet government. He was appointed as a Secretary of the Central Committee that year.
Following the conclusion of the World War II, the leaders of Leningrad, Mayor Alexey Kuznetsov and his deputies, had become national icons and the importance of Leningrad was on a steady rise.
Despite the fact that Kuznetsov and his men were staunch Stalinists, there was a fear in Moscow that Leningrad was threatening the image of the capital as the only centre of power in the USSR. Malenkov, aided by Beria, brought about Kuznetsov’s downfall. He and his men were tried, executed, and their bodies were buried in unmarked pits.
On August 12, 1952, thirteen Soviet Jews were executed in the Lubyanka Prison in Moscow. This came to be known as the Night of the Murdered Poets.
The men killed were all members of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee and after their arrest on the charges of espionage, treason, and many other crimes between September 1948 and June 1949, they were beaten, isolated, and tortured for three years before they were formally charged with anything. Malenkov oversaw the complete extermination of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee, in the Night of the Murdered Poets and beyond.
The Leadership of the Soviet Union
Stalin died on March 5, 1953, after suffering a cerebral haemorrhage on 1 March. A power struggle ensued among Stalin’s top lieutenants immediately after. Four of these men, Malenkov, Molotov, Beria, and Khrushchev, delivered eulogies at Stalin’s funeral.
Continue Reading Below
On 6 March 1953, with Beria’s help, Malenkov secured the premiership for himself, becoming Stalin’s first successor as the leader of the Soviet Union.
His name also appeared on the top of the list of Presidium of the Central Committee (Politburo’s alternative name since 1952). A day later, he was listed first among the secretaries of the Secretariat. This effectively made him the most powerful man in the Soviet Union.
However, Malenkov did not get to enjoy absolute power like his predecessor for long. Nine days later, he was forced to submit his resignation from the Secretariat, with Khrushchev coming in as his replacement. The Malenkov-Khrushchev duumvirate would rule the USSR up until February 1955.
Malenkov was a popular administrator, primarily because of his belief that the output of consumer goods should be increased. However, evidently, Malenkov was unable to curtail the rapid power accumulation by the party apparatus and the promotions of younger generations of politicians. It, in turn, emboldened Khrushchev, who organised a “palace coup”.
Malenkov resigned from the office of the premier in February 1955, having been blamed for the slow pace of progress, especially in the matter of rehabilitation of political prisoners. He would serve for another two years as the Deputy Premier under Premier Nikolai Bulganin.
In 1957, Malenkov tried to organise a palace coup of his own against Khrushchev, who had the support of Zhukov, and through him, the military. The coup miserably failed and Khrushchev dubbed Malenkov and his co-conspirators, Molotov and Lazar Kaganovich, as the 'Anti-Party Group' at a subsequent session of the Party Central Committee. Malenkov and the others were thrown out of the Politburo.
Later Years & Death
In 1961, the communist party completely cut ties with Malenkov and he was sent to Ust'-Kamenogorsk, Kazakhstan to work as a manager at a hydroelectric plant. He later was allowed to return to Moscow and stayed away from politics for the rest of life. He converted to Russian Orthodoxy and at the time of his death he was a reader and a choir singer.
Malenkov would spend the next 26 years in political oblivion. He passed away on January 14, 1988, at the age of 86. His death was not initially reported by most prominent Soviet newspapers. The government broke the news to foreign media about a month later.
Major Reforms
As the Premier of the Soviet Union, Malenkov adopted a much liberal policy than his predecessor. While remaining faithful to Stalinist views, he was vocal in his opposition against nuclear armament, once even stating “A nuclear war could lead to global destruction.”
Continue Reading Below
Malenkov also cut the additional payments to the high political officials and invested the money in paying the wages of lower workers. He tried, albeit unsuccessfully, to upgrade agriculture in the country by increasing the purchasing price and lowering the taxes. During this period, a saying started to circulate in rural Russia, “when Malenkov came – we ate some pancakes.”
He also set up the apparatus that distributed passports to villagers, who had been refused permission to leave their village since 1932. However, this reform was never fully implemented.
On September 30, 1943, Georgy Malenkov received the title of Hero of Socialist Labour.
He was the recipient of three Orders of Lenin. The first one was granted to him on September 30, 1943, the second one in November 1945, and the third one in January 1952.
Personal Life & Legacy
Malenkov’s significant other, Valeria Golubtsova, was an engineering graduate and the daughter of Aleksei Golubtsov, former State Councilor of the Russian Empire in Nizhny Novgorod and dean of the Imperial Cadet School.
She and Malenkov began cohabiting in Turkestan in 1920, the year she became a member of the Soviet Communist Party. Their union was never really recorded in the official registry and for the remainder of their lives, they were unregistered partners. They had three children together, including a boy named Andrei.
According to Golubtsova’s co-workers, she held anti-Semitic views. Her mother was one of the Nevzorov sisters, a Moscow-based women-only club that was associated with Lenin years before the revolution. With the help of this connection, Malenkov and Golubtsova found success in the communist party in the early years of their respective careers. In the ensuing years, she served as the director of the Moscow Energy Institute.
Facts About Georgy Malenkov
Georgy Malenkov had a keen interest in gardening and was known to spend his free time tending to his plants and flowers.
Despite his prominence in politics, Malenkov was also a talented musician and enjoyed playing the piano in his spare time.
He had a great sense of humor and was known for his witty remarks and jokes among his close associates.
Malenkov was an avid reader and had a vast personal library, covering a wide range of subjects from history to literature.
In his later years, Malenkov became involved in charitable work, supporting various causes and organizations aimed at helping the less fortunate in society.

See the events in life of Georgy Malenkov in Chronological Order

How To Cite

Article Title
- Georgy Malenkov Biography
- Editors,

People Also Viewed

Vladimir Putin Biography
Vladimir Putin
Leonid Brezhnev Biography
Leonid Brezhnev
(Russian, Ukrainian)
Dmitry Medvedev Biography
Dmitry Medvedev
Ramzan Kadyrov Biography
Ramzan Kadyrov
Yuri Andropov Biography
Yuri Andropov
Lyudmila Putina Biography
Lyudmila Putina
Sergey Lavrov Biography
Sergey Lavrov