in the early years of colonization contrasted starkly with the promises and public pronouncements of the government, which did not provide the settlers with decent housing, food, medical care, and working conditions.

In many instances, Jewish agricultural colonists found they were given land unsuitable for cultivation because it had not been surveyed and drained. In other cases, the fledgling collective and state farms lacked basic necessities such as potable water, barns, livestock, tools, and equipment.

"Thirty-two resettlers set a tent in the taiga, 12 km. from the station Tikhonka. Thus started the establishment of Waldheim. People unbearably suffered from mosquitoes...but we knew, the future is ahead. And we decided, not a step back!"

L. Gefen, director of Waldheim, a Jewish collective farm, circa 1928

"The colonization of Birobidzhan was begun and executed without preparation, planning and study."

Victor Fink, an American who traveled to the J.A.R. in 1929
stalin's forgotten zion