Toivo Mikael Kivimäki (5 June 1886 – 6 May 1968), J.D., was head of the department of civil law at Helsinki University
1931–1956, Prime Minister of Finland 1932–1936, and Finland's ambassador to Berlin 1940–1944. In 1946, Kivimäki together with half-a-dozen other leading politicians were put on
"war-responsibility trials" that generally were considered a complete miscarriage of justice, executed under pressure from the Allied victors in World War II, and in breach of Finland's
Kivimäki was sentenced to five years in prison after being found responsible for the Continuation War (which started with a Soviet air-attack on Finnish towns on June 25, 1941). After Finland signed the Paris Peace Treaties, 1947, and the Finno–Soviet Agreement of Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance, 1948, the international situation was deemed somewhat stabilized, and Kivimäki was pardoned. He returned to his career in academia.
As with all politicians connected with the Continuation War, Kivimäki was for decades seen in a somewhat critical light. During the era of finlandization, many prominent Finns expressed themselves cautiously on such subjects in order not to disturb sensitive Allied victors of the war; a cautiousness that without doubt influenced Finland's post-war generation's understanding and views. However, a post-Soviet assessment of Kivimäki can not avoid the conclusion that he was an extraordinarily successful politician :
- As Prime Minister, Kivimäki headed Finland's (until 1987) most long-lived cabinet, aiming at stabilizing the turbulent politics in Finland after the semi-fascist Mäntsälä Rebellion had been put down.
- He achieved the reversal of Finland's foreign policy into a neutralist pro-Scandinavian stance, and a Swedish rapprochement, that may well have been prepared for in the most initiated circles, but that in the contemporary tense phase of the language strife in Finland was not at all easy to explain to the public opinion.
- As an energetic ambassador to the Third Reich, he succeeded in reversing Nazi Germany's anti-Finnish stance, obtaining support and favours at a relatively modest cost for Finland. It is notable that Finland avoided formal ties with Nazi Germany up until the ambiguous Ryti-Ribbentrop Agreement, which was signed after the fall of Viipuri in June 1944.
Several individuals and factors were critical for Finland's survival as a sovereign state and, indeed, as a nation during the rough times of the Winter War and the Continuation War. Kivimäki without any doubt occupies a prominent position among these.