The ball-point pen, that is.
On March 1, 1941, Bulgaria’s Tsar Boris III lifted his and threw his lot in with the Axis Powers (Germany, Japan, Italy, Hungary, Romania, and later Yugoslavia) by signing the Tripartite Pact in order to stave off an impending German invasion. The Pact, penned and initially signed by the three major participants in 1940, did essentially two things. First, it recognized that each country, in order to maintain peace, needed to acquire the necessary territory to do so. Second, it stated that each signee would help the other members do just that. Maybe they should have spelled “peace” differently, as this was really about a “piece” of France, “piece” of Russia, a “piece” of Africa, a “piece” of the Philippines,…
Bulgaria took a stance of neutrality and, while it had pro-German leanings, no Bulgarian armed forces took part in the War. Boris himself died two years later, likely poisoned by Hitler, who desired stronger Bulgarian compliance.
Twenty-four days later (March 25th, 1941), Prince Paul followed suit and added Yugoslavia’s name to the Pact. He had barely put his pen down when he was whisked away by anti-German Serbians in a March 27th coup (not the 2-door type) and replaced. In a rage, Adolf Hitler postponed his May launch of Operation Barbarossa (the invasion of Russia), and ordered Belgrade leveled as retribution against the rebellious populace.
The Russian invasion began about six weeks later than originally planned (June 22, 1941), and stalled in a brutal winter that began early. Russia was saved, not only by Hitler’s violent temper and a later-than-usual spring, but also by a pen which was mightier than the sword.