The Berlin Wall was the most easily observed physical manifestation of the Iron Curtain, the ideological and political divide which dominated Europe from 1945 to 1990. On one side were countries such as East Germany, Albania and Czechoslovakia which were influenced by Soviet ideas and increasingly closely linked to the Soviet Union economically, on the other the so-called free world of West Germany, Switzerland and many others. Built in 1961 the wall was toppled following massive political shifts in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. When East Germans were told they could cross the border freely in November 1989 they did so in their thousands. This triggered a massive surge of public interest in the wall and it was taken apart by individuals and groups from both sides in an unofficial dismantling over several subsequent weeks. Fragments of the historic wall were subsequently sold and can still occasionally be found on offer on auction sites such as eBay.