Dr. Stevan Deneberg, a dentist, his wife, Hilda, a physician, and their two sons, Mirko and Paul, lived in Subotica in North Serbia, in the region of Vojvodina near the Hungarian border, which was under Hungarian rule from April 1941 until March 1944. Germany, in an attempt to preempt Hungary from negotiating with the Allies, then occupied all territories under Hungarian control. The Germans, with the help of the Hungarians, started rounding up and deporting the Jews to concentration camps. Mr. Deneberg was sent to forced labor, never to return. Mrs. Deneberg and her two sons were sent to the Subotica ghetto from where transports left for Auschwitz from May 1944 until June 16, 1944, at which time the ghetto was liquidated.
On that day, Mrs. Deneberg’s brother, exempt from deportation as he was married to a Serbian woman and carrying a false baptismal certificate, stole into the ghetto and with the help of his mother’s maid smuggled out Mirko, 11, and Paul, 8. He encountered great difficulty in his search for a place to hide them. He managed to find temporary refuge for them with his wife’s friends, but only for a day or two at a time. He found someone willing to take them in for a price, but the charge was an exorbitant sum that he could not afford.
The uncle turned for help to a priest, known to have ties with the partisans, and he recommended Klara Baić, a pious Christian and single mother to Margica, 12. She agreed to take the boys into her home and the uncle gave her a small stipend to help defray the cost of their upkeep. Mirko later recalled, “Klara shared everything with us and did everything to save us.” She took this decision to shelter the boys despite the warning of severe punishment for those found to be sheltering Jews.
Klara prepared a hiding place in the yard of her next-door neighbor in the event of a sudden house search or raid. In early September she moved, along with her daughter and the boys, to the home of her relative, where they remained until the liberation of the area in October 1944.
After the war, Mrs. Deneberg, who survived Auschwitz and returned to Subotica, moved with her son Mirko (later Michael Danber) to the United States. Paul Deneberg moved to Sweden.
On February 18, 2007, Yad Vashem recognized Klara Baić as Righteous Among the Nations.