During his lifetime Hans-Werner von Massow fostered the concept and ideals of correspondence chess, and became one of its most important and influential promoters. Additionally, as a player, he earned the title "Internationaler Fernschachmeister" (IFSB) which is comparable to the International Master title nowadays.
He was married to Bertl von Massow (1921 – 83) who gave tremendous support to Hans-Werner and to the correspondence chess community. Both could be considered as professional correspondence chess officials. For more than 20 years Bertl’s main focus was the development of European tournaments. This culminated in the Bertl von Massow awards being awarded for the first time at the Congress in Pula (Yugoslavia); the Silver award for 10 years and the Gold for 15 years of meritorious service to ICCF. She became an Honorary Member of the BdF in 1959 and of the ICCF in 1971.
Hans-Werner von Massow was an outstanding official. On 2nd December 1928 Massow (at the age of 16) founded the IFSB (Internationaler Fernschachbund), the predecessor of the International Correspondence Chess Association and of ICCF. From 1928 – 1939, Massow acted as General Secretary and vice-president and was ICCF president from 1959 – 87, retiring in 1987 for health reasons. As a reward for his impressive work the ICCF congress 1987 elected Massow as ICCF Honorary President. BdF had already awarded Massow as Honorary member of their federation in the same year.
Massow was an active official for an incredible 60 years during which ICCF grew to have 60 member federations at its peak. A wide variety of international tournaments and formats were introduced including promotional tournaments, world cups, thematic tournaments as well as the world championships. The motto of ICCF Amici sumus (we are friends) was introduced by Massow.
Additionally, Massow founded the magazine “Fernschach” in 1929 (at that time called "Fernschach-Courier"). He became the editor and held this position until his death. The journal Fernschach used to be the official newsletter of ICCF and of BdF.
Today we are used to having an institutional correspondence chess infrastructure in terms of organization, tournaments and rules. This could not always be taken for granted and although Massow is nowadays mostly remembered as ICCF President and Honorary President, a key aspect of his impact on the development of correspondence chess may be seen in this fundamental effort to initiate a supranational body for correspondence chess. When Massow took over as ICCF president, he did tremendous work to create and to refine the necessary institutional infrastructure.
Massow was a friendly person full of joie de vivre - enjoying good food as well as good wine. Moreover, Massow is one of the rare persons who were received by the Pope as well as by the Kremlin. This circumstance reflects Massow’s wide scope of activities and the variety of his thoughts.
For sure Massow was inspired by the ideal of worldwide peace and of international understanding throughout his life. Right from the beginning of his chess activities he held the view that correspondence chess was more than suitable to spread this idea – the person to whom the player sends a letter or a postcard is a friend. This was and is a remarkable idea, not only in the thirties, or during the Cold War – even today this idea should never be forgotten.