The Rock Ethics Institute

Home > People > Melanie Kovacs

Melanie Kovacs

by rmb529 Aug 27, 2018
Melanie Kovacs

2018-19 Thesis and Research Fellows / Paterno Fellows

History and Jewish Studies


Melanie Kovacs, a native of Philadelphia, PA, is a senior with a double major in History and Jewish Studies with a minor in Art History, and holds a Certificate of Holocaust and Genocide Studies. She is a Schreyer Honors Scholar, a Paterno Fellow, a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Honors Society, and is a recipient of the President’s Freshman Award. Melanie had the opportunity to participate in an embedded enrichment program to Poland in the spring of 2017. In addition to her academics, Melanie is an active member of and manager of the Penn State Men's Hockey Ice Crew.

Thesis: “The Inanimate Victims of the Holocaust: Art and its Displacement as a Result of Nazi Germany”

Project Description: Melanie’s thesis, entitled “The Inanimate Victims of the Holocaust: Art and its Displacement as a Result of Nazi Germany,” will argue that the works of art that were confiscated during World War II and traded or relocated by the Nazi party can be considered displaced victims of the Holocaust. Due to the Nazi regime’s ideology regarding purification of both people and culture during the rise of the Third Reich, certain styles of art across occupied Europe were slated for expulsion while others were regarded as ideal. The thesis will examine the concept of “displacement” and how it applied to victims, human and otherwise, across World War II, as well as the systematic labeling of “degenerate” and “Aryan” art and how these labels dictated the fate of artworks.  The main argument of the thesis stems directly from the third segment of the thesis which covers the continued legal process of restitution of artworks to the heirs of victims across the world. This segment will apply the concept of displacement directly to specific works of art that have either been restituted or are in the process of being returned.