He was just a guy who was fed up with being a Jew in Germany during WWII. He like many young people wanted to see America and the world. An affluent upbringing made him jaded and impatient with the regimented ways of Switzerland. Those ways did bring him an excellent education in new and old schools of photography.
In The Americans, a photobook he compiled in the 50's, and Cocksucker Blues, and unpulblished Rolling Stones documentary in the 70's, he brought forth a ground breaking style of photography that utilized his classical education by producing clear images, and his bitter attitude about the world by showing a grizzly honest depiction of American culture and humanity as a whole.
He is an inspiration to me, and should be to anyone interested in journalism, photography, documentary film making, or anyone wanting to creatively represent the more honest side of human life. He just set out to escape the DMZ of WWII Europe, and ended up turning photography on its head.