Phillip Zenni

Arun Vajpey

Member
Apr 21, 2009
982
188
113
64
I was curious to find out the identity of the first non-First Class passenger who found a place on a lifeboat and so did some searching on ET. Amazingly, there was not a single one - male or female - in the first 5 lifeboats #7,#5,#3,#8 and #1. They contained only First Class passengers and crew. The sixth boat launched, #6, also had all First Class passengers and crew except that a male Third Class passenger, Fahim Zinni, managed to jump into the boat in his third attempt behind Lightoller's back. Or so the story goes. ;)
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1 person

Arun Vajpey

Member
Apr 21, 2009
982
188
113
64
He was originally from Syria. His surname is mentioned in different ways - Zinni, Zenni, Za-inni and even Leeni in some sources. Apparently, 'Fahim' in Arabic means 'perceptive' or 'he who sees' (source ET), which he must have been to find an early place in a lifeboat, that too on Lightoller's Port side. Perhaps he should have retained his original first name because on settling in America, he anglicized it (like many other Arab immigrants) to Philip. From that point things started to go downhill for him. He lost jobs, was constantly short of money, in trouble with the law and his wife disappeared with their 4 children when he was in prison for a short time.
 
S

SmileyGirl

Guest
Aaw that’s sad. He used all his good luck on the Titanic getting past Lightoller!
 
  • Like
Reactions: Arun Vajpey
Nov 14, 2005
662
249
113
He was originally from Syria. His surname is mentioned in different ways - Zinni, Zenni, Za-inni and even Leeni in some sources. Apparently, 'Fahim' in Arabic means 'perceptive' or 'he who sees' (source ET), which he must have been to find an early place in a lifeboat, that too on Lightoller's Port side. Perhaps he should have retained his original first name because on settling in America, he anglicized it (like many other Arab immigrants) to Philip. From that point things started to go downhill for him. He lost jobs, was constantly short of money, in trouble with the law and his wife disappeared with their 4 children when he was in prison for a short time.
Awhile back I was going thru the passenger lists. I kept noticing Syria kept popping up in the country if origin. After reading your post I got curious and did some poking around. I've read from different sources there were anywhere from 80 to 154 Syrians on board plus 75 to 90 or so Lebanese. Seems from 1880 to 1920 there was a large immigration from the middle east to the US. Wasn't aware of that. Interesting. Found a good article about it right here on ET. Link below. Also if you ever get to NYC go thru Ellis Island. Very interesting to history geeks like me.
Alien Passengers: Syrians Aboard the Titanic
 

Arun Vajpey

Member
Apr 21, 2009
982
188
113
64
One source of confusion is that a lot of 'immigrants' on the Titanic were not first timers to America. Zinni/Zenni/Leeni himself had arrived in America in 1906 and worked for 3 years but without receiving American citizenship. He later returned to his native Syria to get married and start a family before returning to the USA on the Titanic. Therefore, he was in a sense an unofficial Syrian-American and got his official US Citizenship only in 1924.

Another 3rd class male survivor, Juho Niskanen, has a life and death story surprisingly similar to Zenni. Like the other man, Niskanen had lived and worked in the US for 3 years before returning to his native Finland to marry and start a family. He was returning alone on the Titanic, like Zenni with the hope of settling himself before arranging his family to join him. Niskanen managed to find a place in Lifeboat #9, one of only two 3rd class passengers on that boat. But unlike Zenni, Niskanen never properly settled down after his return to the USA, never made enough money to be able to get his family to join him, developed mental health problems, had several brushes with the law (like Zenni) and finally set fire to his cottage and shot himself to death in 1927, the same year that Zenni died.
 
Last edited: