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.