RCMP Report on Egerton Herbert NORMAN

December 1, 1950

[ RCMP Superintendent George B. McClellan ]

RCMP Superintendent George B. McClellan, Unknown, Royal Canadian Mounted Police


TO: [name of organization deleted under Access to Information Act, but clearly this was sent to FBI]

Re: Egerton Herbert NORMAN

This further to our memorandum of October 17, 1950, regarding Egerton Herbert NORMAN.

2. Since writing you on that date a most intensive investigation has been carried out with the kind assistance of [deleted]. We are now in a position to inform you the final stage of such has been completed, a summary of which we are pleased to offer you for [deleted] records.

3. Needless to say, upon the Department of External Affairs being presented with security material concerning E.H. NORMAN, the latter was immediately recalled from his post as Head of the Canadian Liaison Mission in Tokyo. Upon his arrival NORMAN was given home leave concurrent with the investigation then already underway.

4. During this period the Force exploited every source available, including special investigative methods. However, before summarizing the evidence before us, we consider it timely to make an assessment of NORMAN’s personality as this is essential for an appreciation of what follows. Indeed without an assessment it would be most difficult to arrive at any decision. We have followed NORMAN’s life in an effort to find the answer. At the same time we have had the opportunity of interrogating him fully. Unconsciously, he has been subjected to other methods, and thus an impartial assessment became possible.

5. Throughout his University career NORMAN was a scholar of high standing. In 1933 he graduated in honour classics from the University of Toronto. He obtained a second degree in Cambridge, England, and third in the University of Toronto. After being awarded a Rockerfeller [sic] Fellowship, he studied at Harvard. The latter portion of his University days was devoted to the study of the Far East and he became internationally recognized as one of the outstanding occidental authorities of history of the Far East. He has retained his scholarly approach; and while his chief field of study has been the Far East, it is obvious his intellectual curiosity has led to a study of history and ideas of the West.

6. NORMAN has been a member of the Department of External Affairs for a period of more than ten years and is rated by that Department as one of its ablest officers. He has held various positions in that Department and in 1946 was appointed as Head of the Canadian Liaison Mission to Japan.

7. While, as stated above, NORMAN is a man of high intellectual attainments and a valued foreign service officer, he clearly lacks any shrewdness in judging individuals. It is here where a weakness lies, if one should in fact describe it as such. At least it is NORMAN’s undeveloped faculty. While he has been astute in the subjects in which he is versed, it is evident that he has been more na´ve in his relationship with man. In other words he has frequently failed to properly assess his social acquaintances but rather accepted at their face value all those who interested him without being conscious of their ideologies. It is apparent that he either cared for a person or not according to the personality reflected by the individual. Thus, should one prove interesting, NORMAN would accept him without question.

8. It is apparent this undeveloped part of NORMAN’s personality partially explains his association with those of the left. To complete this explanation is the association by necessity of those, many of whom are of the left, with knowledge of the Far East.

9. It was in Harvard that NORMAN first met Shigeto Tsuru, the Japanese economist. NORMAN, pursuing his Far Eastern studies, learned that Tsuru owned an extensive library of Japanese history and related subjects, access to which would assist him in this pursuit. In this manner they became associated. NORMAN does not remember Tsuru as a Marxist which is reflected in the correspondence [3 lines deleted]. The failure to assess Tsuru as a Marxist, in our opinion is one of the many examples of NORMAN’s naivetÚ, as another scholar who knew Tsuru at the same time, readily identified the latter as a Marxist economist. This same scholar recalled discussions during the period in question at which Tsuru was present, yet he definitely stated there was nothing said to suggest they were intended for the indoctrination to Marxism. NORMAN too, recalls discussions but could not identify them as of Marxian character.

10. While the correspondence of Tsuru clearly indicates that study groups were being formed in the latter part of 1936 and the beginning of 1937, it does not show whether NORMAN was regarded as a member of a group. NORMAN states he was not a member of any study group but does recall small gatherings of graduate students and junior members of the staff discussing various subjects. He further states that he would not have accepted membership in any organized group for two reasons. The first explanation concerns the latter’s study of Far Eastern history which was consuming most of his time. The other reason advanced concerned communism itself. NORMAN states that he had read and heard expressed the theories of Marx, Lenin and Trotsky at not only Harvard but the University of Toronto and Cambridge also. At this period, the end of the depression was not in sight and NORMAN had been examining various political theories and their applications as a cure. By the time he entered Harvard he advises he had come to the conclusion that communism was not the answer to world problems.

11. NORMAN saw and spoke to Tsuru often during the former’s Harvard days. Later upon moving to New York City he saw him little and it was not until 1942 that they again met, this time in rather different circumstances. In 1940 NORMAN was posted to Tokyo where he remained for two years, the latter part in internment. In 1942 he was repatriated on an exchange basis, the exchange taking place in Portuguese East Africa. No sooner had he disembarked when he saw Tsuru (who was being repatriated to Japan) coming toward him with greetings. During a brief conversation, Tsuru offered NORMAN his library in Harvard and suggested contacting one [deleted] a former economist at Tufts attached to the Wartime Production Board in Washington. This NORMAN did. Subsequently he proceeded to Harvard and began searching for the library, a portion of which he found in various parts of the University. (Undoubtedly it was either that portion which had already been claimed by [line deleted] “Shigeto Tsuru”, or else Tsuru had offered the same library to more than one). In any event NORMAN claims he knew nothing of the contents of Tsuru’s apartment and had merely gone to that address, as well as the others, in an attempt to gather together the promised library. He generally confirms the discussion with [deleted] but with slight variations. These, however are insignificant and require no elaboration. It has been confirmed that NORMAN was, at the time, on special work for the Canadian Government which was of interest also to the United States authorities. The library of Tsuru’s would have been a valuable asset for this specific task. However, NORMAN advises his interest in the library was two fold in that he desired it for both his work and his further study of Japanese history. As a matter of fact he maintains his interest in the library to this day and has remarked that what [deleted] must have, is possession of something entirely separate. His reasons to support this opinion are based on the statement that the library to which he refers is entirely in the Japanese language and while it probably contains a few Japanese Marxist books they certainly did not reflect the character of the library. He could not reconcile the statement of your [deleted] that the library was mainly communist, as the collection of books in which he was interested was in Japanese and principally concerned with Japanese history.

12. Upon his return to Japan in 1946, NORMAN met Tsuru and mentioned he had failed to obtain the library for reasons already known. Tsuru, he says, offered the story concerning [deleted] another Japanese, with which you are already familiar.

13. With [deleted] report before us, coupled with independent information and NORMAN’s explanation, we are completely satisfied that his overtures for the library in no way referred to the communist literature and correspondence found in Tsuru’s apartment. We are also satisfied his claim of the library was for the purposes previously stated.

14. During his first attendance at the University of Toronto, NORMAN met Israel Halperin who was then studying mathematics. They lived across the hall from one another and shared the same bathroom. In conversation he learned Halperin was interested in music which was a mutual subject, irrespective of the opinion that Halperin used an unorthodox approach. Once off the subject of mathematics, NORMAN states [deleted]. Politically he considered him a socialist, never as a communist and it was with great surprise that he learned of Halperin’s involvement in the espionage cases. We consider his statement is confirmed in the document quoted on page 48 of the Report of the Royal Commission in which Lunan reported to Rogov to the effect that Halperin was “definitely not labelled with any political affiliation”. NORMAN further states that after leaving the University of Toronto he did not see Halperin again until they met at Harvard. Subsequently they met in Ottawa and occasionally saw one another. However, NORMAN states the acquaintanceship remained casual as it had in the past. He expressed surprise that his name appeared so often in Halperin’s notebook, although he would have had no reason to deny giving an address should Halperin request. [line deleted]. (This theory is obviously confirmed by examination of the notebook.) In addition, Norman says he cannot recall ever making note of addresses of Halperin as he was never a close friend and their social engagements were few. In other words, they had few common interests and thus nothing drew them together. We feel satisfied that NORMAN was quite innocent of Halperin’s covert political and espionage activity.

15. You are now referred to Gouzenko’s testimony regarding one “NORMAN”, already known to you. It is our opinion that the “NORMAN” referred to is very probably none other then E.H. NORMAN. This evidence has been thoroughly examined and the matter referred to the originating source. While the identity of “NORMAN” will never definitely be known with the information presently available to us, we consider it not unlikely that it was the intention of Moscow to attempt cultivation in the same manner as described in the document beginning on page 50 of the Report of the Royal Commission. Briefly, certain government personnel who had access to information of interest to the Russians would be selected as targets, probably on information supplied by one of their talent spotters. Not knowing their political ideology, or for that matter their background, an attempt would be made to gain this knowledge by seemingly innocent and casual conversation. The potential source at no time would be conscious of this planned approach nor that their names were being used.

16. We believe that such was the case with NORMAN. Not only did he hold a position of interest to the Russians but was invited to official receptions and parties in houses with others of his Department, where somehow a Russian, probably by design, was always in evidence. Thus on several occasions NORMAN met Pavlov (N.K.V.D) who was successful in engaging him in conversation. It is not unlikely that it was Pavlov who was talent spotting and suggested NORMAN to Moscow. At any rate it is now apparent they know little of NORMAN as Moscow did not supply details to Zabotin. Zabotin himself had met NORMAN at parties but it is obvious there was no recollection. From that now before us we are of the opinion that NORMAN was never developed, consciously or unconsciously by the Russians, if the query from Moscow did in fact refer to E.H. NORMAN. [Marginal note — Poor assumption bearing in mind parallel rings described in Royal Commission Report. The GRU asked if “Norman” was known — not NKVD.]

17. You are now referred to paragraph 5(b) of our memorandum previously mentioned. We have made extensive enquiries concerning the information originally supplied by our Secret Agent, and have arrived at the decision that the information given is one of either mistaken identity or unfounded rumour by an unidentified sub-source. Of the numerous points supplied at the time, the majority have been absolutely determined to be in error. The remaining few have not been confirmed, nor does there appear to be any answer to them. The source does not recall the matter. We have therefore deleted the reference insofar as NORMAN is concerned.

18. We have taken similar action regarding the information supplied by the source in paragraph 5(f). It has been established that Mr. and Mrs. NORMAN were not present at the dinner party in question. The source, on being further exploited, admits an error and now retracts the original statement. Thus we are striking the information from the record.

19. We now deal briefly with the remaining personalities mentioned in that same paragraph. In this regard we have received satisfactory explanations in each case. [deleted] considered loyal as the result of a direct interview of the husband. The relationship between the NORMANS, [deleted] has been cleared up to our satisfaction.

20. NORMAN has been questioned regarding his association with [deleted] mentioned in paragraph 5(a) of the memorandum in question. He readily recalls meeting [deleted] who at the time was an [deleted] seconded to the Wartime Information Board, an agency of the Canadian Government. He advises he only met [deleted] on several occasions, knew little of him, and nothing of his political ideology. Our records reflect that during [deleted] service in the [deleted] he did not reveal any overt interest in communism when casual conversation was maintained by the [deleted] security. As a matter of opinion, it was said he had settled down and enjoyed [deleted]. Actually he may be likened to [deleted] as one who showed no outward signs but was operating clandestinely. We are of the opinion that NORMAN is sincere in the explanation of his relationship with [deleted].

21. Reference is now made to the address given in paragraph 6(b) as taken from Halperin’s notebook. NORMAN vaguely recalls residing on Charles Street for a very short period in his early days at the University of Toronto. Charles Street, incidentally, is in the immediate vicinity of the University grounds. At that time 108 Charles Street was a residence. No significance need be placed in this reference.

22. NORMAN identifies [deleted] as one he knew first as a boy in Japan and subsequently as a student at the University of Toronto. He describes him [deleted] at that time. Later he met Holmes in Ottawa and saw him on several occasions but as they lived at widely separated points in the city, their social activities were very limited. NORMAN states [deleted] nor does he know the political ideology of his brother, [deleted].

23. Our investigation, while centered on the information previously supplied you, extended as it progressed. However there has been no evidence uncovered which would indicate disloyalty on the part of NORMAN. The worst possible conclusion we can arrive at is the very apparent naivetÚ in his relationship with his fellow man.

24. The Department of External Affairs has been given a full report of our findings in which that Department concurs. Attached hereto is copy of a self-explanatory letter from that Department.

25. It is requested the information supplied you concerning this case be restricted for the information of [deleted].

(T.M. Guernsey), S/Inspector,
for Officer i/c Special Branch.


Source: Library and Archives Canada, Security Intelligence Service, Access to Information Request, File 117-89-109, T.M. Guernsey, RCMP Inspector, RCMP Report on Egerton Herbert Norman, December 1, 1950

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