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The Local's top five features of 2011

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The Local's top five features of 2011
Photo: DPA
07:00 CET+01:00
While the economy was on everyone's mind this year, The Local's feature writers took an in-depth look at stories that may have been off the radar. We've picked some of our favourites.

Is Germany's right-wing scene out of control? And what happens when Germans seek pen-pals in American jails? These are just a few of the topics our feature writers delved into this year.

1) Germany's sense of security was shaken when the existance of a neo-Nazi killing squad emerged in November. Have far-right extremists been turning increasingly to terrorist tactics?

Armed neo-Nazi scene embraces violence

The rise of the National Socialist Underground (NSU) has focused attention on Germany's neo-Nazi scene, which experts say includes violent militants with professional weapons training

2) Germans love swapping letters with pen-pals – especially if they're behind bars.

Convict connection: US pen pals found in jail

A growing number of Germans are striking up pen friendships with inmates serving time in US prisons. We go inside these unusual transatlantic relationships.

3) The September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks changed America forever. But they also had a profound effect on attitudes toward Germany.

Hamburg looks back a decade after 9/11

A decade after the 9/11 attacks, Hamburg remains stigmatized by perceptions it was a breeding ground for Islamist terrorists, according to the director of the city's domestic intelligence service.

4) More than 100 million people speak German as their native language. But in some parts of the world, it's endangered.

Lonely Star State: Texas Germans dwindling

Countless German immigrants moved to Texas in the 1800s, forming their own unique culture. With their language now near extinction, a professor is trying to preserve it.

5) Everyone knows about Europe's economic struggles. But Germany is doing better than most countries. And it has the middle class to thank.

The family secret behind the economic boom

The backbone of Germany's booming economy isn't huge industry – it's thousands of small and mid-sized firms spread across the country. The quiet achievers are part of the country's Mittelstand.

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