The British driver set a time of 49.139 seconds in the individual time trial at the end of qualifying.
For the first time, all six BMW drivers made it through to the second qualifying session.
In extreme conditions, Mattias Ekström in the Red Bull Audi A5 DTM of Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline secured grid position four for the DTM race at the Norisring.
For Paffett, it is the tenth pole of his career and the second of this year.
Nancy Knapp Schilke, DTM Correspondent