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May 17: Carlos Roloff, Cuban Patriot

May 16, 2016

113690255_137360506469Carlos Roloff (Akiva Mialofsky or Akiva Rolland, according to different sources), an immigrant soldier-of-fortune from Warsaw who became a Cuban military general and fought against Spanish colonial domination in the Ten Years’ War and the Spanish–American War, died at 65 on this date in 1907. His family moved to the U.S. in 1862 and Roloff became a soldier in the Union Army. His work in the sugar industry after the Civil War led him to Cuba, where he moved and quickly rose in the nationalist ranks. Between 1892 and 1895 he lived again in the U.S. while working with with José Martí and the Cuban Revolutionary Party. On May 19, 1895 he landed in Cuba with one of three groups sent from the U.S. to engage with the Spanish military. From 1901 until his death he was Treasurer of the Cuban Republic.

“The admission of Jews to Cuba was officially prohibited until the fall of the Spanish empire (1898). Nevertheless, a few Jews from the Caribbeans... settled in the island during the 19th century, concealing their Judaism. A few Jews were involved in Cuba’s struggle for independence, such as Louis Schlesinger, a Hungarian Jew who participated in the military expedition of Narciso López (1851).... General Carlos Roloff, one of the heroes of the Ten Years War (1868–78), was a Polish Jew. José Martí, the greatest leader of the Cuban people, had a friendly attitude towards the Jews, which was manifested in his writings. His Revolutionary Cuban Party (1892) received contributions from the Jews in Key West (Florida). Joseph Steinberg was decorated as captain of the Cuban Army of Liberation and was among the first Jews who settled in Cuba after the Spanish-American War (1898).” —Encyclopedia Judaica