Ivan Pavlovich Tovstukha' (Russian: Иван Павлович Товстуха) (February 10, 1889 – August 9, 1935) was a Soviet leader, Communist Party functionary, and personal secretary of Joseph Stalin and the author of the first official biography of Stalin.
During the 1905 Revolution, as a student at a secondary school, he joined subversive 'literary evenings' organised by the Ukrainian writer Mykhailo Kotsiubynsky. In 1909 he started working at the Chernigov Social-Democratic organization.
In July 1909 Chernigov police searched Tovstukha's room and found about 240 prohibited books, including works of Marx, Engels, August Bebel, Plekhanov, Maxim Gorky. The illegal library belonged to the Social-Democratic groups of pupils of the local seminary. Tovstukha, now aged 20, was arrested and sentenced to exile in Siberia. His exile started in 1911 in Irkutsk province, where Tovstukha carryied revolutionary propaganda among locals and exiles, and was involved in raising money for the publication of Pravda newspaper.
In January 1912, he fled abroad, and in 1913 joined the French Socialist Party, and the Paris section of the Bolshevik wing of the RSDLP, led by Lenin. In exile, be worked as a digger, assistant fireman, worked in the kitchen, and as a driver.
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Post Revolutionary Career
His association with Stalin dated from April 1918, when he was appointed secretary of the People's Commissariat for Nationalities, where Stalin was People's Commissar. When Stalin was appointed General Secretary of the Central Committee, Tovstukha was transferred to the Central Committee as Stalin's secretary, the first to hold that position.
In 1926–30, he again ran Stalin's private office as head of the Secret Department.
In 1927, Tovstukha wrote the biographical entry on Stalin in a special edition of an encyclopedia, the so-called Granat Encyclopedia, to mark the tenth anniversary of the revolution.  This entry, which was the first biography of Stalin published in the Soviet Union, was also brought out as a separate pamphlet, with a print run of 50,000.
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In 1930, Boris Bazhanov, who had defected to the west after working in Stalin's personal secretariat, published a memoir in which he implied Tovstukha was a more significant figure than his job titles suggest. This is borne by subsequent research. Long after Stalin's death, the playwright Edvard Radzinsky was researching Tovstukha's archive for a biography of Stalin when he was approached by an elderly man who had worked with Tovstukha, who said:
"He was effectively in charge of the Party Archive. He collected all the Lenin documents ... In 1929, it was decided to make Stalin's 50th birthday the occasion for nationwide celebrations. Tovstukha began removing from the archives all documents concerning Stalin, particularly his pre-revolutionary career, ostensibly in order to write a full biography. But no full biography appeared. He collected the documents to make sure they were never published."
According to Bazhanov, Tovstukha also studied the returns from elections to the Central Committee, to identify those who had not voted for Stalin. Delegates to party congresses were give a list of preferred candidates, but could cross out individual names and write in others, in a supposedly secret ballot. Tovstukha allegedly enlisted a graphologist to help him identify the handwriting of delegates who had made alterations. Bazhanov described Tovstukha as "a gloomy subject", who had a persistent cough and "only half a lung" (because of his tuberculosis) but in whom Stalin had "complete confidence".
The significance of Tovstukha's appointment to the Lenin Institute is that, at the beginning of the power struggle that followed Lenin death in 1924, it gave him access to every available document about Lenin, including those that detailed his sharp differences pre-1917 with Leon Trotsky. Tovstukha's appointment "gave Stalin control over the Lenin Archive, providing him with an ideological and polemic tool of the first importance. Tovstukha learnt to know his way about the archive better than anyone. He was able to supply Stalin with material about Trotsky or any other enemy."
Tovstukha was rumoured to be the author of an anonymous leaflet circulated in 1924 entitled Small Biography of a Great Man which suggested that though Trotsky like to think of himself as an Old Bolshevik and a great man, he really should be called an Old Menshevik.
It was Tovstukha who falsified Stalin's date of birth, for reasons unknown. Throughout the Stalin years, and long afterwards, it was consistently written that he was born on 21 December 1979, when his birth certificate gives the actual date as 18 December (6 December Old Style 1978.
An indication of the importance Stalin attached to his work is that he secretly wrote to the publishers, instructing that Tovstukha was to receive royalties, warning that if Tovstukha were to say he did not need to be paid "he's lying: he's desperately short of money."
But he eventually clashed with Stalin, who sacked or transfered members of Tovstukha's department without consulting him while he was away. Tovstukha submitted a written protest, on which Stalin scribbled: "Ha, ha, ha. Here's a real bantam." In 1930, he was replaced as Stalin's chief aide by Alexander Poskrebyshev.
In 1930–31, Tovstukha was Deputy Director of the Lenin Institute, a member of editorial board of the journal "Proletarian Revolution". From 1931, he was Deputy Director, then Head of archives of the Marx–Engels–Lenin Institute. In February 1934, he was elected a candidate member of the Central Committee. He worked on assembling and editing the collected works of Lenin
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- "Ivan Tovstukha". The Free Dictionary. Retrieved 25 November 2022.
- "«Теневой» человек вождя Иван ТОВСТУХА — преданный сотрудник и первый начальник личной канцелярии Сталина (The Leader's 'shadow' Ivan Tovstukha – a devoted employee and first head of Stalin's personal office)". День (Day). Retrieved 25 November 2022.
- "Товстуха Иван Павлович 1889–1935 Биографический укатель". Khronos. Retrieved 24 November 2022.
- This entry is republished in full, in English translation in George Haupt, and Jean-Jacques Marie (1974). Makers of the Russian Revolution: Biographies of Bolshevik Leaders. London: George Allen & Unwin. ISBN 0 04 947021 3.
- Tucker. Stalin as Revolutionary. p. 428.
- Radzinsky, Edvard (1996). Stalin. London: Hodder & Stoughton. pp. 12–13. ISBN 0 340 68046 6.
- De Jonge, Alex (1987). Stalin. Glasgow: Fontana. p. 196.
- Tucker, Robert C. (1974). Stalin as Revolutionary 1879–1929. London: Chatto & Windus. p. 335.
- Montefiore, Simon Sebag (2004). Stalin, The Court of the Red Tsar. London: Phoenix. p. 53. ISBN 0 75381 766 7.
- Medvedev, Roy (1976). Let History Judge, The Origins and Consequences of Stalinism. Nottingham: Spokesman. p. 154.
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