To begin with the word nonportable as used by military medal collectors means not wearable rather than too large to carry, and nonportable medals are more often described as table medals. The village of Tuerkheim was in the German speaking part of the Alsace which is a border province between France and Germany. Due to this unfortunate location the province always changed hands after every war. Before 1871 it was part of France. After 1871 Germany absorbed it. France took it back after WWI. Hitler grabbed it in 1940 and now it is back in France again where it looks like it will stay for the foreseeable future. WWI left Germany a broken country; bankrupt, leader less and nearly bled dry of it’s young men. Therefore when their surviving men came home it was a joyous occasion. The people of Tuerkheim however knew that they would soon be part of France and that the service and sacrifices of their troops would go unrecognized at best by their new masters so they had to act fast. In early 1919 they issued a Welcome Home and Thank You medal to their veterans. Due to the economic limitations of the time the medal was made of zinc but the size and design was quite respectable. It was a nonportable medal because very soon the wearing such a medal would be treated as an act of treason by the French. The medal itself is 50mm in diameter and was made by Carl Pollath of Schrobenhausen. The obverse has a strange looking helmet with high side arches over a sword and laurel sprig with an unfurled German battle flag in the background. The German legend translates, Honor and gratitude to the brave protectors of home and hearth. The reverse has the Tuerkheim coat of arms on an oak sprig above a five line German inscription and date which translates, To the returning brave soldiers the welcome and greetings of the grateful village of Tuerkheim 1919.
While zinc may be an undesirable metal for coins and medals, don’t pass it by without a closer look. There may be some interesting history lurking there.