Josef Fritzl has insisted he did his best to care for the daughter he repeatedly raped and their seven children.
Fritzl ,73, now being held in an Austrian police cell, told his lawyer that he tried to look after the family he kept secret.
Fritzl, in an interview passed by lawyer Rudolf Mayer to Austrian magazine News, also said that he “must have been crazy” to imprison daughter Elisabeth for 24 years.
He said that he tried to care for them, taking flowers, books and stuffed toys to them in the dingy dungeon below his home in the town of Amstetten.
“I constantly knew, over the entire 24 years, that what I did was not right, that I must have been crazy because I did something like this,” Fritzl said.
The case came to light last month, and Fritzl has since confessed to locking up Elisabeth in 1984, repeatedly raping her and fathering her seven children, one of whom died just after birth.
“I tried as best I could to care for my family in the cellar,” Fritzl claimed.
“When I went into the bunker, I brought my daughter flowers and my children books and stuffed animals,” he said, adding he would watch adventure videos with the children while Elisabeth cooked their favourite meals.
“And then we’d all sit at the kitchen table and eat together,” he said.
Fritzl’s double life began to disintegrate when Elisabeth’s oldest child, 19-year-old Kerstin, had to be taken to hospital with a severe infection.
Doctors, unable to find medical records for her, appealed on TV for her mother to come forward. Fritzl accompanied Elisabeth to the hospital on April 26.
He later told police that he had fathered seven children with Elisabeth – three kept in the cellar all their lives; one adopted by him and his wife; two others raised in the couple’s custody; and the one who died as an infant.
In other comments published by News, Fritzl said he grew up an only child in “humble circumstances” and that his mother, whom he “admired very much,” threw his father out of the house when he was four.
“She was the boss at home, and I the only man in the house,” Fritzl said of his mother.
Fritzl also said he considered good behaviour and decency important, and that Elisabeth had stopped following rules when she hit puberty.
After locking her up, Fritzl said he repeatedly thought about letting her go but was scared about being arrested and having people find out what he had done.
“With every week that I held my daughter, my situation got crazier ... it’s true, I thought repeatedly about whether I should let her go or not,” he said.
Fritzl, who always wanted to have a large family, said he was happy about the children Elisabeth bore him. To prepare her for labour, he brought her medical books, towels, disinfectants and diapers, he said.
“Elisabeth was of course scared of the delivery,” he said.