This article breaks new ground by studying the impact of members of the International Brigades in Spain and analysing the ways in which Spanish political groups have been making use of the memory of the Brigades since the end of the Franco regime in 1975. It shows that the veterans of the International Brigades played the role of agents of democracy between 1975 and 1977. Between 1977 and 1988, a time when invoking the past carried political risks, left-wing groups in Spain constructed a memory of the volunteers as proxies, and the memory granted the groups the space that they needed to vindicate their own anti-fascist struggle. With the final crisis and collapse of the Soviet Union, the Left moved away from ideology and, for good measure, made use of ethical reasons to demand recognition for the Spanish victims of General Franco. Increasingly, the International Brigades were remembered not as proxies but as part of a struggle to acknowledge the sufferings of the Spaniards.