But this is just silly. The Reuters writer, who had enough synapses fire to leave his or her name off this, suggests that Springsteen's 1988 concert in East Berlin helped fuel (or, according to the headline at the time I first read the story, "helped fed") discontent amongst the East Germans. A few months later those same Ostdeustche picked up and left when their government finally granted them a right lots of people elsewhere had enjoyed for years -- the ability to walk, drive, swim or fly where you want to without having to cross minefields or dodge bullets.
A lot of people smarter than I am have pointed out that one of the Communist bloc's greatest failings was to provide provide its people with what they wanted. That included everything from basic consumer goods to decent luxury items to the ability to speak their minds on what occurred to them. As worldwide communications technology improved, lots of those people began to notice everything they didn't have. And among the things they wanted was western popular music, such as that performed and recorded by Springsteen. The influx of popular culture through music, movies and even television increased their dissatisfaction. Springsteen and his concert were another drip in a long process of erosion.
But the dissatisfaction wasn't new, or else there wouldn't have been a Berlin wall in the first place. East Germans, Poles, Czechs, Slavs, Russians and a host of other folk who woke up in the middle of Mr. Lenin's nightmare had wanted out for a loooooong time. The Chinese, Cubans and North Koreans still do.
And the article ignores the Springsteen comments it quotes -- he says he's come to East Berlin to play some rock and roll "in the hope that one day all barriers will be torn down," and that he's "not here for or against any government." Which fits well with the Springsteen of the 1980s, who was certainly an activist for many causes but still shunned official politics. His closest tango with that business up until then had been his pointed rejection of Ronald Reagan's attempt to co-opt his songs during the 1984 presidential campaign.
So, did Bruce, as the headline asks, help bring down the Berlin Wall? Well, no more than Levi Strauss did. But he did accurately describe what happened to much of the old Soviet bloc afterwards when he sang this line from "Thunder Road" on Born to Run: "It's a town full of losers, and I'm pulling out of here to win."