Hugo Schmeisser was a German arms designer.
Born in 1884 in Jena in Thuringia, Schmeisser was the son of Louis Schmeisser, a highly-prominent arms designer during the late 1800s to early 1900s. He received his early training in arms design at the Waffenfabrik Bergmann factories in Gaggenau. Schmeisser ultimately left Bergmann in 1919 due to the enactment of the Versailles Treaty, forbidding Germany from developing and designing heavy machine guns; he would then set up Industriewerk Auhammer Koch und Co with his brother Hans.
As World War I had just ended, sales were in no way high, and Schmeisser joined C. G. Haenel Waffen und Fahrradfabrik in 1922, along with founding the Gebrüder Schmeisser company as a way for protecting his patents if Auhammer went out of business; ultimately, Auhammer merged into Haenel. Schmeisser would design various arms for Haenel, including the MP 28 which was used by various different countries; while successful, Haenel came very close to bankruptcy numerous times.
As the Nazi rule was looming, Schmeisser developed a business relationship and later friendship with Ernst Udet, a deputy of Hermann Göring; this allowed him to have a direct influence on military production, speeding up and enhancing production of weapons at unprecedented speeds. In the 1940s, he would design quite possibly his most important weapon yet: the MKb 42, a weapon which would eventually become the StG 44.
After World War II, he and his brother Hans were continually interrogated for weeks on end by Allied secret services, before being assigned to department no. 58 at factory 74 with some seventeen other Germans; this factory would later become known as IZhMASh. He worked in a group of five German designers, including himself: these were Werner Gruner and Kurt Horn from Großfuß AG and Oskar Schink and Karl Barnitzke from Gustloff Werke, with Barnitzke being the leader of this team. Of the five designers, Schmeisser was apparently the most uncooperative as evidenced by various reviews by his handlers, and was described as a "practical man" whose lack of training was evident whenever a design problem presented itself.
Schmeisser was ultimately repatriated in 1952 and died mere weeks before his 69th birthday in 1953; he is buried in Suhl.
Schmeisser is known to have worked on the following arms:
- Bergmann MP 18 - submachine gun
- Haenel MP 28 - submachine gun
- MK 36 - submachine gun
- MKb 42(H) - assault rifle
- StG 44 - assault rifle
- Despite being commonly associated with him, Schmeisser was not involved in the design of the MP 40.
- McNab, Chris. German Automatic Rifles 1941-45: Gew 41, Gew 43, FG 42 and StG 44. Osprey. pg. 13.
- Peterson, Phillip (18 October 2013). Standard Catalog of Military Firearms: The Collector's Price and Reference Guide. Iola, Wisconsin: Krause Publications. pp. 152–154. ISBN 978-1-4402-3692-1.