Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Re: Egerton Herbert NORMAN

Studies in Communism

It was in 1932 that NORMAN advises he first became interested in the political theories of Marx, Lenin and Trotsky. At the time he was in his final year at the University of Toronto. This interest, he says, was confined to reading and did not embrace group discussions or group studies.

Upon graduating from the University of Toronto he entered Cambridge and remained there for two years. During this time his interest in political theories obviously entered the more practical stages by his admitted attendance on frequent occasions of meetings sponsored by the left-wing Socialist Society which NORMAN advises was largely composed of socialist and communists. He maintains his mind remained open although he was under some influence of one John Cornford, a well-known communist subsequently killed in the Spanish Civil War.

Upon returning to Canada, NORMAN again entered the University of Toronto as a post-graduate student. His study of communism, he says, continued but at this time was confined to reading. He knew no communists or left-wingers during this period.

In 1936 he left for Harvard. At this stage his interest in Far Eastern Affairs became active and as a result he became associated with various individuals not only attached to Harvard but those connected with the Institute of Pacific Relations, Amerasia and similar publications. NORMAN indicates he was devoting practically all his time to his studies of Japanese history and while he was induced to review several books for Amerasia, Pacific Affairs, and Far Eastern Survey, he did not find much time for any other subjects. It is apparent he attended several gathering, described in the correspondence of Shigeto Tsuru as S.G. 3 (Study Group No. 3). It may be mentioned at this point that Tsuru besides being an economist on the staff of Harvard was a Marxist although NORMAN states he did not know him as such. NORMAN readily identified “Science and Society”, a publication identified with Tsuru’s study groups. He claims he was not a subscriber. “Science and Society” identified itself as a Marxian Quarterly to meet the requirements of the intellectual. NORMAN states he heard remarked that it is rather low-grade. In any event it was the purpose of Tsuru and his “Science and Society” associates to establish study groups which would eventually lead to “cell division”, thence to membership in the “Workers’ School”, the Young Communist League and possibly the Communist Party itself.

By the spring of 1937 at least five such study groups had been established one of which was ready for “cell division”. The curriculum suggested by Tsuru needs no more elaboration than to say it followed the now well-established pattern of indoctrination into the theories and practice of Marx. NORMAN states he does not recall a paper entitled “American Imperialism” written by himself for discussion at one of these study sessions. He does say, however, that a suggestion from some of the bright economists who formed the group gatherings, would no doubt have influenced him in writing something. He does not recall Tsuru or the others initiating any special inducement to carry on with the study group which he described as informal group discussions. It will be seen that by this time NORMAN had been studying communism for approximately five years and irrespective of the extent, he must have been partially conscious of the object of the study group. To accept less would place him in the category of being politically na´ve, or worse, a fool. He is said to be neither. It must, therefore, be assumed that he attended the study group meetings fully conscious of their Marxian character.

However, NORMAN states he never accepted any political theories without question. During the period under review, the world was in the midst of a world depression and he was open to receive any theories which would rectify the situation. He forcibly states he could not find the answer in communism. The Russian practice of socialism, he says, was not to his liking and the purges was one of the several deciding factors. In his opinion, NORMAN advises, the British approach to democracy is superior to all other forms.

From his own statement, and this possibly may be substantiated by the correspondence of Tsuru, NORMAN says he did not devote much time to study and discussion of Marx or the others. Not only had he not accepted their theories but the history of the Far East demanded practically all this time. Thus he denies membership in Harvard Student Union, the John Reed Club, Harvard Teachers Union, Harvard Peace Society and others, although he was aware of the three first mentioned. He claims he never heard of the “Harvard Communist” or the “Harvard Progressive”, two publications with an apparent local distribution.

In 1938, NORMAN became a research associate with the Institute of Pacific Relations. Under a Rockerfeller grant he was to produce a book necessitating him to move to New York City and thus he became acquainted with various individuals, some of whom were communists. He maintains this acquaintanceship did not develop into close association, probably partly for the reason that he was writing the book in his apartment and only used the I.P.R. for reference purposes. It is said that there are few Far Eastern experts on this Continent and those few would largely be connected with I.P.R. in one form or another. NORMAN advises he was out to gain all the information he could gather from these sources and consequently would either know or know of practically all having knowledge of the Far East. Thus he met both those of the left and the right.

His academic interest in communism had apparently waned by this time, if one is to accept his statement. At least there is no evidence to contradict such. From this time until he left for Japan in 1946 it is limited to association with some of that ideology. An explanation of this association follows:


Norman is recorded several times in the Halperin notebook. He admits knowing Halperin from his days at the University of Toronto. Although Halperin was one year ahead of him, they lived across the hall from one another and shared the same bathroom. Halperin, he found, was interested in music as was he. [2 lines of text deleted under Access to Information Act] A casual friendship existed and this was continued at Harvard and subsequently in Ottawa during the war years. He expressed surprise that his name appeared so often in the notebook, although he said he would have had no reason to deny giving an address should Halperin request. He doubts if he ever bothered taking down an address of Halperin. [3 lines of text deleted under Access to Information Act] (This theory is obviously confirmed by examination of the address book). Halperin, he says, was never a close friend and what social engagements they had were few. Discussions, he claimed, usually involved student days. Politics were not a topic. NORMAN claims he never knew Halperin as a communist, and while this on the face of it may be difficult to reconcile, there is the possibility it was correct by the following excerpt taken from the Report of the Royal Commission:

“A good illustration of the ease with which The Director in Moscow was able to obtain espionage agents from the secret membership of the Canadian Communist Party in selected Canadian organizations is provided by the Research Group consisting of Halperin, Durnford Smith and Mazerall, under the leadership of Lunan. Two of the three scientists were members of a Communist cell made up of scientists most of whom are employed in the National Research Council in Ottawa. There is no evidence that before the end of March, 1945, any members of this group contemplated espionage against Canada or any other illegal activity — though they did take pains to keep their political views and the existence of their study-group secret from the associates with whom they worked. Lunan reported of them to Rogov that before he approached them for espionage purposes:-

“They already feel the need for maintaining a very high degree of security and taking abnormal precautions at their normal meetings (about once in two weeks), since they are definitely not labelled with any political affiliation. One or two have even opposed the introduction of new members to our group on the grounds that is would endanger their own security.”

NORMAN claims he has not heard from Halperin since his departure for Japan in 1946.

Shigeto TSURU

A Japanese economist on the staff at Harvard in the latter 1930’s. An obvious Marxist. Listed in Halperin’s notebook. Repatriated to Japan in 1942. En route met NORMAN on the exchange ship at which time he “bequeathed” NORMAN his library of Japanese history left behind at Harvard. NORMAN attempted to gain possession of these books, and when calling at Tsuru’s former apartment was confronted by the F.B.I. who had taken possession of Tsuru’s effects in the apartment. NORMAN claims a misunderstanding existed in that he desired the library which he knew was available. He denies knowing anything of Tsuru’s other effects such as the correspondence left in the apartment. [approximately 10 lines of text deleted under ATIP]

NORMAN is recorded in the desk telephone directory of [name deleted under ATIP]. The local number is of the Far Eastern Division of External Affairs. NORMAN says he recalls [deleted] as having met him on three or four occasions. At that time [deleted] was in the Army and attached to “Canadian Affairs”. He believes he first met [deleted] at a house party in the home of [deleted]. The son, [deleted], he recollects, was very critical of communism at the party. NORMAN cannot remember any phone conversations with [deleted] and can advance no reason why [deleted] would know him as “Herb” as only a few of his closer friends addressed him as such. He admits [deleted] could have addressed him sililarly [sic] but not as the result of a close friendship. NORMAN could not offer any opinion of [deleted] political ideology. [4 lines of text deleted under ATIP]

Colonel ZABOTIN — U.S.S.R. Military Attache

NORMAN states he first met ZABOTIN at a house party (Sandy Hill district) and among those present were [deleted] and two British Army Officers (n.n.k.). He recalls he had a discussion with Zabotin regarding Japan and was quite surprised that Zabotin freely spoke as he did in view of the fact that Russia was not then at war with Japan. NORMAN recalls he made an official memorandum of this conversation.

Vitali G. PAVLOV — Second Secretary U.S.S.R. Embassy

NORMAN advises he met PAVLOV at several functions both in the Embassy and at private parties with others of External Affairs. He recalls having an argument with PAVLOV concerning Russia’s views of the two world wars.

BELAKOSTOKOV — Secretary U.S.S.R. Embassy

He recalls having met this individual at parties on one or two occasions. [one page deleted under ATIP]

NOTE: Many other names were offered NORMAN for identification such as those in the Report of the Royal Commission, and associates of the other individuals mentioned in this paper. NORMAN claims he knows none of them.


Reference Page 23 Report of the Royal Commission. NORMAN can offer no explanation for this piece of information given by GOUZENKO. We have no evidence before us to indicate the “NORMAN” is identical to E.H. NORMAN. The source is unable to elaborate other than to offer the following points:

  1. The communication from the Director to Zabotin did not refer to anything previously received by Zabotin.
  2. It did not use the word “agent”, there was no address given, nor was the type of NORMAN’s business indicated.
  3. There was nothing mentioned to suggest “NORMAN” was a source of intelligence material.
  4. “NORMAN” was not referred to as being connected with the Party.
  5. No description of “NORMAN” was given.
  6. No associates were indicated.
  7. The telegram itself showed the “Director” had belief that one of Zabotin’s agents knew something of “NORMAN”, although supporting reasons were not given.
  8. The reason for the Director not answering Zabotin in itself revealed that some check-up was being conducted.
  9. No further action regarding “NORMAN” was taken by Zabotin’s clandestine organization.

E.H. NORMAN’s name could have been conveyed to Moscow by Pavlov or some other member of the Embassy connected with a separate department of the Russian Intelligence Service although there seems to be no answer to the evidence given by Gouzenko.


It is apparent that NORMAN not only studied communism but has been associated with numerous individuals coloured with various shades of red. Many of his explanations could be accepted as logical and reasonable providing he is politically na´ve. Should such not be the case it could be assumed he was quite conscious of the dubious political aspirations of their associates. NORMAN denies ever being a member of the Communist Party, the Young Communist League or affiliate. He further denies that he was ever approached to join any such organizations.

Whether or not his earlier studies of Marx, Lenin and Trotsky, coupled with association led NORMAN to believe in or accept their theories is something only he himself can answer. He claims the only effect it had on his political ideology was to convince him they were not the answer to world problems and instead accepted the British principles of democracy in preference to all other forms of government.

Providing NORMAN has been politically na´ve, and perhaps those more closely associated with him should decide on this, the writer is inclined to accept his explanations as being reasonable. There is no doubt but that he and his wife have associated with a set, the nature of which is hardly consistent with his responsible public position.

That he recognized the significance of such at the time seems to be doubtful, unless of course, he shared the ideology of those acquaintances previously referred in this paper. There is no evidence available to indicate this was so shared, nor is there any information to suggest disloyalty. NORMAN denies that he ever consciously gave information to anyone who was not authorized to receive it. He is also firmly convinced that he was not an “unconscious” source. Further he disclaims all suggestions that he was ever approached for information by any unauthorized source, directly or indirectly. There is nothing at hand which indicates the contrary unless the reference in the Royal Commission Report could be accepted as referring to him. Should this be so, he could have been either a “conscious” or “unconscious” source for another division of the R.I.S., or a selectee of one of their talent spotters as were some others who were innocent of their names being used. From what took place, it would not appear that “NORMAN” was a conscious source at the time. It is also unlikely he was an “unconscious” source. Rather it appears that the “NORMAN”, by virtue of his position, was one who had access to information of interest to the Government of the U.S.S.R. Assuming for the moment that “NORMAN” is identical to E.H. NORMAN, and assuming that his name was given to Moscow by a talent spotter as a possible source for cultivation, it is not necessary that he was of their political ideology. This is very well illustrated in page 50, 51 and 52 of the Report of the Royal Commission, quoted in part:

Supplementary Recruiting Methods Also Contemplated

“While most of the ‘agents’ were recruited from Communist ‘cells’ after they had been thoroughly investigated and found sufficiently indoctrinated, other recruiting methods of a different nature were also employed by the Russians in attempts to extent the scope of their Fifth Column networks.

“a)Social contacts

“For example certain Soviet officials endeavored to exploit their social relationships and diplomatic contacts with persons in Canadian Government Service.”

The exhibit which accompanies this statement, concerns two Colonels in the Canadian Army who were innocent of the fact they were R.I.S. targets. It concludes as follows:

“Both the first as well as the second, work in responsible positions, consequently they gave their signatures not to divulge military secrets. Therefore the character of the work must be the usual one — a personal touch in conversations on various subjects, beginning with oneself, one’s own biography, work and daily life, at times asking them, as if for comparison of this or that situation, etc.”

That Herbert NORMAN had on several occasions been in the company of members of the Soviet Embassy, especially PAVLOV, his name could very well have been reported by PAVLOV, unknown to himself. Motinov did not ask PAVLOV if he knew a “NORMAN”, rather he asked if [deleted] was known to him. Had the name “NORMAN” and not [deleted] been asked of PAVLOV, the answer may have been different.

Herbert NORMAN is obviously the type the Russians would attempt to exploit for information such as in the part of the exhibit not quoted. His open personality and easy manner would present no difficulty to those intent upon this purpose.

[one line deleted under ATIP] in the matters under review is seemingly apparent. Indeed it seems that NORMAN himself has been perhaps too willing to accept people at their face value without considering the possible implications. Not having interviewed Mrs. NORMAN, the writer is unable to assess her personality.

Source: Unknown, "RCMP Report on Norman," (: , November 27, 1950). Notes: Source: Library and Archives Canada, Canadian Security Intelligence Service Access to Information Act Request, 117-89-109

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