Spanish-French writer Jorge Semprún's life has been fundamentally affected by the Spanish Civil War and its outcome. He was uprooted as a young boy, when his family went into exile after the defeat of the Republic, and this influenced his actions and thinking. Throughout his life he confronted the memory of the Second Republic, his perspectives, ranging from the intimately personal to the analytical-political. Being a Spanish Republican, or a ‘Spanish Red’, was deeply ingrained in his identity and writings. Believing that literature can be useful to access history and communicate truths about it, he frequently returns to the theme of the Spanish Civil War, primarily speaking for the defeated. Through the channel of literature he places the personal into a more general context, simultaneously offering the views of an engaged participant and of the artist. Tracing this theme in Semprún's works the paper examines how defeat and exile turned into determination and resistance and how the memory of the war reflects in his literature, intertwining the personal with the fictional and the political.