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The author has spent years researching original documentation held in the military archives of Germany and elsewhere to produce the entire technical and tactical history of the design, development and fielding of the world's first mass-produced assault rifle and the revolutionary 7.92x33mm Kurz cartridge. It has been said that Adolf Hitler was the greatest general the Allies had during World War II, and several examples of his fatefully bungled tactical decisions are discussed. None was perhaps more significant than his refusal-- on three separate occasions during 1942 and 1943-- to sanction the adoption of the intermediate-calibre assault rifle as the general-purpose infantry weapon. Its acceptance and fielding thus proved to be a long, tortuous and never-fully-completed process, and, as a measure of the complexity of the story, in all of German small arms history, no weapon was renamed so often within such a short period of time. Its ultimate name, Sturmgewehr 44, was belatedly bestowed in October 1944 by Hitler himself after his early failures to appreciate the advantages of the assault rifle had delayed the program for a full year, and by the time he changed his mind, a general rearming was out of the question. Nevertheless, the Sturmgewehr was by far the most important and influential small arm and cartridge of World War II.