The General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union was the leader of both the Communist Party of the U.S.S.R. as well as the Soviet Union itself.[source needed]Joseph Stalin served as the General Secretary during the 1930s and the 1940s. He led the Soviet Union during World War II. (PROSE: History 101)
Nikita Khrushchev held the position until his removal from office in 1964. Nevertheless, he continued to exercise considerable control over the Politburo until his health began to fail seven years later. (PROSE: Who Killed Kennedy)
Chernenko served as the General Secretary until his death in the 1980s. He was succeeded by the considerably more moderate Mikhail Gorbachev, whose tenure saw the fall of the Berlin Wall on 9 November 1989 and the eventual collapse of the Soviet Union.
In an alternative timeline created by the Elder Gods in the hope of destroying Earth, Chernenko was succeeded by the militant hardliner Vladimir Kryuchkov. This ultimately led to the outbreak of World War III on 9 November 1989 with the Soviet Union on one side and the United States and its allies, including the United Kingdom, on the other. Given that nuclear weapons were used by both sides, hundreds of millions of people were killed in the conflict. This timeline was ultimately negated by the Seventh Doctor. (AUDIO: Protect and Survive)