In 1939, in Hitler’s Germany, Alexander Kirk was in charge of the American embassy in Berlin, and George Kennan was his counselor. Although food shortages made it difficult, Kirk gave an enormous buffet lunch every Sunday. There were perhaps a hundred guests who had standing invitations and another hundred who were invited occasionally.
One Saturday, Kirk called Kennan into his office and told him he’d been ordered to Paris for consultation and wouldn’t be able to give the usual Sunday lunch. “Please take the necessary steps to call it off,” he said to Kennan.
A few days later Kirk returned from Paris and called Kennan into his office. “You did a pretty good job canceling the Sunday lunch,” he told Kennan. “There were only two people you forgot to tell.”
“Who were they?” George asked.
“The chief and the Japanese ambassador,” Kirk replied.