Malenkov's family connections with Vladimir Lenin sped his promotion in the party, and in 1925 he was put in charge of the party records. This brought him into close association with Joseph Stalin, and he was heavily involved in the purges of the 1930s. During World War II, he was given sole responsibility for the Soviet missile program. Later he gained favor with Stalin by discrediting Marshal Georgy Zhukov for supposed disloyalty, and supporting Stalin’s campaign to erase all the glories of Leningrad in the public mind, in order to promote Moscow as the cultural capital.
On Stalin’s death in 1953, Malenkov succeeded him as both party leader and head of government, but as the party did not want both functions entrusted to the same person again, Malenkov lost his position of party leader to Khrushchev, but remained premier. His two-year term ended in failure. He was expelled from the Politburo in 1957 after trying to lead the "Anti-Party Group" in a bid to oust Khrushchev. In 1961 he was expelled from the party and exiled to Kazakhstan. He converted to Russian Orthodoxy in his later years. He died of natural causes in 1988.