Research : Giorgio Riboldi
Translator: Francesco Cortellini
Hugo Schmeiser was Born in Jena, Germany, on September 24th 1884. Both Hugo and his brother Hans, followed their father’s footsteps, moving to Suhl at the begining of the 20th century to learn the basis of firearms design. His work for the Bergmann industries proved to be pivotal in this respect. At the time, the Company was involved in the development of new pistol ammunitions, suitable for use with automatic weapons, the only ones whose development ad production would later be authorized to Germany after the Treaty of Versailles, and the armistice of Compiègne. During WW1, in the first months of 1918, Schmeisser took part in the effort that led to the design and manufacture of the mp18-I, a weapon that would be behind the design of most of the SMGs untill the 1960s.
The Treaty of Versailles marked the end of the partnership between the Bergmann Industries and Schmeisser family, and the estabilishment of a family owned businnes: the“Industriewerk Auhammer Koch und Co”. The uncertain economy of the newborn German Republic, and a reluctance to follow the restrictions imposed by the victors, would lead to a partnership with Haenel Industries. This partnership, because of Germany’s adverse economical situation would then lead to
a proper merger, but the rights over all the Shmeisser designs was owned by a third company, the Shmaisser Brothers, to safeguard the intellectual properties of Hugo and Hans. Despite the hardships, Schmeisser completed the design of the MP28-II, that would be manufactured in country for the German Police, and under licence by Bayard for export purposes, ensuring the survival of the Haenel industries.
The raise to power of the nazis led, in 1933, to a merger of the most important armament manufacturers of the Suhl area, under the lead of the Schmeisser brother. This was faicilitated by the bond between Hugo and Ernst Udet, one of the leading figures of the Nazi Party and of Goering’s Luftwaffe . This friendship allawed Schmeisser to influence the decisions of Hitler himself in the field of armaments. In 1935 Haenel was manufacturing at full capacity, despite the costly payment of royalties over intellectual properties to
Shmeisser Brothers. The more frequetly used patent during the nazi era was on a magazine, used to feed the SMG that has become the trademark of the German soldier: the mp38, later mp40.
Schmeisser’s work reached a turning point toward the end of the 1930s, when the designer carried forward an idea that led to a true revolution on the battlefields for the forecomming decades, with the development of a weapon system and related ammunition. This led to the birth of a new category of individual weapons: the assault rifle, sturmgewehr in German. The 7.92×33 mm ammunition was designed in 1940, under the early
designation of Pistolenpatrone M43, later Kurzpatrone M43. The Maschinenkarabiner 42, later MP43, was designed in 1942 followed by the MP44/Stg44 .
The end of the war marked the end of Shmaisser’s work for Nazi Germany, for Haenel and for Schmeisser Brothers. Hugo and his brother were imprisoned and interrogated by the Amercans firts and by the Russians later, following the shifting of the Allies occupied areas in Germany. In October 1945 Hugo was taken to Russia, where he was (forcefully) employed at Factory 74, later renamed Izhmash, probably to work on the development of the most widelly known assault rifle of all times: the AK47. Schmeisser’s work at Izhmash continued untill late 1952, when he was allawed to return to Germany. On September 12th of the following year, Hugo Schmeisser died in Suhl, the city that marked his acomplishment as an exceptional weapon industrialist and designer .
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