The team of Christoph Langen and Markus Zimmerman took gold having been tied with Switzerland 1 going into the last of the four runs.
The German pair broke the track record with their third run to take the competition down to the wire.
Langen then drove a solid final leg to take the title by 0.09 seconds - the biggest margin between the two teams over the two days of competition.
Ironically, for such a dramatic competition in which both teams pushed each other to the limit, they each finished with their slowest runs.
Switzerland 2 took the bronze, 0.51 seconds off gold, despite setting a new track push record at the start of their final run.
First run Germany 1 - 47.54
Switz'lnd 1 - 47.52
"You can't provide more tension," Langen said after finishing with an aggregate time of three minutes 10.11 seconds.
"I was hoping that we were tied after the final run as well - we both deserved gold," the five-time two-man world champion added.
That was the outcome in Nagano four years ago, when Langen and Zimmerman claimed the bronze.
But four years on, they pounced on their opportunity to take the title after Christian Reich and Steve Anderhub in Switzerland 1 failed to exert enough pressure with their final run.
The Swiss had led the German veterans up to the halfway mark, but when it mattered they were unable to match the form they had shown on the first day.
That meant that the 39-year-old Langen could call on all his experience to come home inside the Swiss time to secure victory.
Langen, and his 37-year-old brakeman Zimmerman, won the right to go last after tossing a coin.
It was Germany's first victory in the event in 18 years.
Martin Annen and Beat Hefti in Switzerland 2 enjoyed an equally tense finish before claiming the bronze.
The American pair of Todd Hays and Garrett Hines, buoyed by home support, set a testing target that Swiss finished 0.03 seconds inside.
Defending Olympic champion Pierre Lueders of Canada, with his brakeman Giulio Zardo, came home behind the Americans.
GB 1 finished in the top 10 having started the final run in 12th.
Lee Johnston and Marcus Adam put together a run of 48.02 seconds - their best run of the competition - to climb two places.