Home / Q: What Was Stalin’s Most Useless Project?

Q: What Was Stalin’s Most Useless Project?

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A: There’s no doubt Joseph Stalin was a man of ambition. As leader of the Soviet Union, one of his key interests was to initiate insanely challenging construction projects, and one of his more formidable ventures was to construct a Baltic-White Sea Canal. The waterway intended to connect the Baltic Sea’s key port of Leningrad with the White Sea’s port of Archangelsk. Of course, Stalin opted to save on all the labor costs by having the work done by political prisoners.

In 1933, after a few brutal years, the project was finally completed. By this time, however, disease, poor nutrition, and dangerous conditions had claimed the lives of 250,000 of the slave laborers. So how did the great canal turn out? Well, it was completely useless. Most of it was too shallow to admit anything larger than a small barge. Even worse, Stalin was so displeased with the project that a book of propaganda detailing biographies of the “heroic” workers and engineers had to be recalled. Why so? Well, mainly because all of the main characters had been shot. Evidently, Papa Stalin wasn’t too happy with his comrades’ work.

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  • There has to be more to the story. Did they bloc it off?

  • Donnie Marler

    “Mainly because all of the main characters had been shot.”
    Not a funny subject, but this is a great line!

  • “most useless project”….ummm the gulags?

    turns out they didn’t work for shit either

    but hey…under Putin they may just make a comeback…


  • The gulags *could* be useful, they just weren’t used well. The canal is apparently only good for paper-boat races.

  • Good ol’ Uncle Joe…

  • Bliffle

    Great example of a commie boondoggle! Thankfully, we are not living under a corrupt system like THAT. Through arduous application of Good Old Yankee Ingenuity we’ve eliminated such primitive efforts by Privatizing boondogling.

    For example, our elementary schools are authorized under No Child Left Behind to purchase “Classroom On Wheels” (COW) units for $3800 each from “Ignite!”, a Texas company. Some schools complain that they would better spend their money on paper and textbooks, but what do they know? The COW units don’t teach reading writing and arithmetic, but they do have great cartoon characters, ditties and multimedia presentations. Oh, the pres. of Ignite! is Neal Bush, GWBs brother, and “41” and Barb are investors.

    You can read about it here.

  • STM

    The GUM department store in Red Square, where people would queue in the snow for hours (just on the off chance, after spotting a queue) only to discover that this week’s special was … mini cardboard school-bag sized suitcases, just like the one you were holding to put whatever you could buy inside it after you’d finished queuing.

    Then you’d buy five, after slipping the GUM lady an extra 20 roubles, to swap with friends who had accidentally queued for five hours in the umbrella queue or the toilet-paper queue.

    And don’t get me started on the horse steaks and Ukrainian tractor factories …

    Such were the delights of Soviet Russia and Stalin’s five-year plans.

  • Bliffle

    Well, lets see: I suppose we could privatize the GUM stores by selling kiosks at GUM to private vendors who would, upon the customers arrival, offer a contract for a paper suitcase, to be delivered upon the customer satisfying some other requirements.

    We’ve sovietized much of US society by interposing various layers of administration that yield ripoff tolls to our own kind of commissars. The blue tarpaulins FEMA distributed to homeowners cost $100 each, tho anyone could buy one for $10 at Home Depot.