Frans Blom as Traven
 

There is a researcher in Mexico who is convinced Frans Blom is the voice of experience behind B. Traven. I don't think he is, but that does not mean that Frans Blom was not a role model for Ret Marut to turn himelf into B. Traven, or Traven Torsvan the scandinavian explorer of the southern Mexican jungle, which is exactly what Blom was years before Traven. There has always been a question when and how Marut got the idea to go to Mexico. On August 2, 1943, Irene Mermet left Copenhagen on a ship bound for New York. Its a little harder for me to read the manifest but Ret Marut left Copenhagen shortly before that for England and then on to Canada, where he was returned to England. Because of the possible Blom connection, the Copenhagen departure point stuck out to me and I looked for Blom's location at that time, and lo and behold, I cannot quite get the dates. But possibly by the end of July, more likely a couple weeks later, Blom was at the Copenhagen Museum conducting an extended exhibit on Mayan culture, complete with artifacts, film and lectures. It would be a nice find for this 90 year old Traven mystery if Ret Marut met and talked to Frans Blom at that time.

Ship Manifests for Marut, Mermet and Blom

 

The latest in the long line of those who have solved the B. Traven mystery - Peter Wood claims to have solved the identity of the real B. Traven - Frans Blom. Actually this has been speculated by others, and is in print in various places. Experienced reseachers have long wondered who is behind the reference to meeting "B" when Marut first landed in Mexico. Its one of the key mysteries, who the heck was "B" in Marut's diary. Nevertheless, the author makes many good strong points. Especially when he talks about "The White Rose". Rather than summarize, read it.

http://www.deniswood.net/content/Peter%20Woods%20ms.pdf

 

Everything we know about Hal Croves is that anything he says is likely not true. Late in life he tells Judy Stone, what does it matter if one is the son of a Hohenzollern prince, and this is precisely what his wife believed, that he was the son of the Kaiser. To Esperanza he was the son of the rich and famous Rathenau family. If he really told her she was his daughter, she believed at least for a time that this was her family. Esperanza as early as 1943 says he is driving her crazy. Traven's only late novel was rejected and suspected as not being by the same author. He spends all his creative time rewriting or screenwriting. He had his ashes spread in a town where he had been threatened to not return. He seems to be the ultimate poseur. The letters dont match the man who knocks at the door. So for this we have to give him credit, he was a writer, or there was somebody else. I think he was a writer, who borrowed freely, and probably spent a lot of time in libraries.

But there is that reference to "B" and his good plans. Until that is settled, if ever, there will always be some doubt because of the man. What is potentially very valuable in Mr. Wood's essay is the discussion of why would this unknown author give manuscripts to Hal Croves, then stay silent all those years.

The Blom archive should be searched with this very question in mind. Obviously the Croves archive should be made public. I believe the theory hinges partly at least on Blom and Marut having met in Europe, if they can ever be placed in the same location. Another line - when Marut writes he meets B near Tampico, where is Blom at that moment? The extensive Irene Mermet archive residing in California should be searched for any mention of Blom. Baumann says she apparently knew who B was. That would be the smoking gun.

 

There are in fact some very intriguing near misses in space and time between Blom and Traven.
Frans Blom is from Denmark. According to the book "Frans Blom - Maya Explorer", by Robert Brunhouse, the dates of his travels through Germany at a young age are confused, but its possible he was in Germany at the same time as Marut. Blom spent considerable time studying European art and Marut was friends with German artists such as Franz Seiwert.
Frans Blom is in Mexico for the first time in 1919. Its clear he lived the life similar to the one that Traven projected for himself, spending time in Traven's mythical home Ocosingo 5 years before Traven was there.

After meeting Sylvanus Morley, a top scholar of Maya hieroglyphics, in April 1923 (p.30) , Blom was hired by Morley to dig at Chichen Itza starting in 1924, but first he arranged for Blom to enter Harvard for formal studies in the fall of 1923. He worked in Mexico City for a museum during the summer, but sometime in late summer, before the fall term, he made a trip to Europe. (p32) "He took with him a motion picture film of Maya ruins...He made a quick trip to Denmark to visit his parents. In Copenhagen he set up an exhibition of Maya archaeology with objects (Manuel) Gamio had given him and items he had collected in his travels. He attended the exhibition frequently and lectured on Mexican antiquities. After the exhibition closed, he turned over all the objects to the Danish National Museum."

It looks pretty clear from ship manifests that Marut and his partner Irene Mermet were also in Copenhagen that summer (see link above).

 
I do not know the dates of the museum exhibit, or the date that Frans Blom arrived in Copenhagen. Its a very near miss or its a possible meeting, is all i can say now. Imagine the fugitive Ret Marut walking into the museum in Copenhagen and meeting the experienced Mexican expert Frans Blom.
On leaving Denmark, Blom stopped off in England, visiting the British Museum Maya collection and meeting Maya scholar Alfred Maudslay.
Blom finishes his fall 1923 term, then works in Uaxactun starting in late Feb 1924 (p.37- Brunhouse). "He closed down the work near the end of April. On the return to Belize, he visited 14 other Maya sites in the Peten. After boarding a boat at Belize, he discovered it was a rumrunner, and when he landed at Progreso he was arrested. When he arrived in Chichen Itza, (Sylvanus) Morley reported that he looked thin." Not too many dates to work with here, but it was sometime in may-june 1924. (p.38) "In July and August he worked under Neil Judd of the Smithsonian in the Southwestern part of the United States." So at the least, he would have had to fly over Tampico, where Traven was by this time.To repeat Traven's moves, we dont know when or how he arrived in Mexico, but he is in the Tampico area by the early July 1924 at the latest.

Heidi Zogbaum has an interesting footnote. In "B.Traven the Writer, Der Schriftsteller B. Traven" edited by Jorg Thunecke, 2003, she has a footnote 6 on page 200. in the text, paraphrased, "Traven claimed that the famous photographer Edward Weston taught him the basics of photography during the summer of 1925, and through the offices (of Weston), Traven received an invitation to participate as photographer on a scientific expedition to Chiapas. It seems likely (says Zogbaum) that Weston had received an invitation but did not want to go, preferring instead to follow the invitation of Sylvanus Morley to work with him in Chichen Itza in the Yucatan area in the summer of 1926." Morley of course is Blom's boss and benefactor and Blom is in Chichen Itza with Morley in the summer of 1924. The footnote after that entry notes the source as Weston's "Daybooks" entry May 8, 1926. Then Zogbaum adds a comment - " It is interesting to note that Traven wrote to his publisher in Berlin that he had plans to visit Morley in Yucatan with his menagerie but he never did."

Her source is apparently Guthke. p. 192 Traven writes to Schonherr on Jan 5, 1928, from Tapachula, his jumping off point on his second Chiapas visit, "he planned to be in Yucatan about mid-February with his circus where Dr. Morley of Harvard was directing the excavations at Chichen-Itza and at whose camp I have already ordered a good welcome dinner."

in the spring and summer of 1925, while Traven is apparently in Mexico City with Weston, Blom makes his well planned and financed career making expedition to Chiapas exploring unknown Mayan ruins. The trip was recorded in his book, "Tribes and Temples."