Legislation awaiting President Clinton's signature will open up thousands of classified U.S. files on Nazi war crimes and criminals.

"I've been waiting for this for a number of years and now it's finally come to pass. This could be a new era in the study of the Second World War and the Cold War," said historian Robert Herzstein of the University of South Carolina.The legislation, he said, opens up "avenues to researchers that were closed before."

The president has indicated his support.

The Nazi War Crimes Disclosure Act would make it much easier for historians, researchers and the public to view the documents dating to the Cold War years that followed World War II.